After the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines are struggling to recover from ravaged infrastructure, leveled homes and health crises, with the support of governments and non-governmental organizations alike. One of the most pressing issues is housing recovery, as it’s critical to get displaced typhoon survivors into secure housing, temporary and otherwise, to get them out of the elements and help them start rebuilding their lives. One innovative program, the Leapfrog Project, is highlighting need and coming up with an innovative solution to the perennial problem of how to quickly and safely build houses in regions where it can be hard to organize labor, materials and other resources.
Spearheaded by Atelier Lira Luis, the Leapfrog Project is taking a more modern, informed approach to disaster recovery and international development. Rather than imposing on regional residents, as has been the traditional practice, they’re working directly with locals from the very beginning to establish their needs and help them develop the skills and expertise they need to take charge of their own recovery. The goal with this approach is to empower communities, and ensure that they have the ability to care for, maintain, build upon and develop resources after international agencies and helpers withdraw; a living example of the “give a man a fish” saying.
Before they get started with key rebuilding, they’re installing a series of “living tents” in an art installation that will highlight the need for recovery while creating temporary structures residents can use. The tents are formed in the shape of giant balls, similar to that of structures developed by marimo algae in some regions of the world. These organisms form unique, startling shapes and the same concept is being integrated here to tie the tents in with nature, recovery and rebuilding. Using the Living Wall concept pioneered by Atelier Lira Luis, the tents will be both centers of community activity and actual living organisms, of a sort, using biomimicry and other techniques to bring them to life.
The tents will be highlighting the plight of Tacloban, a city which was almost completely destroyed in the typhoon. After a workshop, locals will be putting up the installations and getting them ready for use, while the firm will be using them as a public outreach tool to encourage people to donate to its typhoon recovery efforts. As the community starts to rebuild, the tents can be taken down one by one for replacement with permanent structures to suit evolving needs; for example, hospitals and schools might be built at places once marked by the living tents.
This project is bringing together experts from a wide variety of disciplines to help Tacloban rebuild in a way that suits the needs of the community while providing safer, stronger building options to protect it from future weather incidents. The coordinated efforts of people with varied experience, education and training to bring to the table is matched by that of local residents, who are playing an active role in the recovery process. This model of recovery could prove valuable for other regions facing severe storm damage and complex recovery needs.
Photo credit: UK Department for International Development.