|Department of Engineering|
|University of Cambridge > Engineering Department > News & Features|
25 May 2011
Members of the Eco House Initiative leadership team
L-R Jamie Radford, Luke Bramwell, Maxine Jordan,
An Un Techo para mi Pais house under construction
Un Techo para mi Pais volunteer
The world is facing unprecedented challenges associated with continued population growth, economic growth, poverty and climate change. As the populations and economies of the developing world explode over the course of this century, the demand for improved housing and the associated resource requirements will be equally large. Considering that the built environment currently accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions, there is a clear need for innovation in housing design to improve people's quality of life, whilst reducing the impact of the built environment on climate change.
To achieve this goal, the Eco House Initiative has been started by students in co-operation with the Departments of Engineering and Architecture. It seeks to create a platform for the exchange of sustainable design between academic and industrial innovators as well as development organisations. The latter have the local knowledge and the capacity to deliver sustainable designs at a large scale, in the developing world.
Un Techo para mi Pais - a Roof for my Country - is one such development organisation. It has already built over 75,000 temporary houses with the help of over 300,000 student volunteers in Latin America. The organisation is ready to make the transition to building permanent, sustainable homes, but currently does not have all the knowledge required to do this. Making the jump will involve innovation in all areas of the housing design, including:
The Eco House Initiative will facilitate an interactive design process whereby students, academics and industry can partner with organisations like Un Techo para mi Pais to design, construct, evaluate and improve designs within a developing world context.
Students from the Departments of Engineering and Architecture are being given the opportunity to travel to developing countries this summer, through a placement partnership between Engineers Without Borders and Un Techo para mi Pais. They will work alongside university student volunteers from the countries where the houses are to be constructed. Their mutual learning process will allow all participants to better understand the environmental, technical, economic, climatic, cultural and political contexts in which sustainable solutions must be applied.
Facilitated by academic support from supervisors within the Departments of Engineering and Architecture, students can choose to undertake extended research on aspects of the sustainable housing design as part of their degree courses, either as fourth year projects or dissertations.
There are also boundless opportunities for industrial partners to participate, whether through sponsorship, pro bono work on the design or as advisors on innovative practice. The Eco House Initiative's fusion of fresh design and real world application has the potential to make a huge impact in helping to eliminate poverty while reducing carbon emissions and resource consumption.
To find out more about how you or your organisation can get involved, please contact the Eco House Initiative team:
Tel: the director, Jose Vallejo, on 07769 971 604.
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