h+uo architects is a firm based on bringing new light to old trait. One of our architectural interns, Abe Drechsler, is a perfect example of someone possessing that passion. After graduating from NC State, Abe was given a grant to travel and study a meaningful aspect of architecture.
Abe and his grant partner, Brian Gaudio, thought first of what they wanted to explore. And secondly, how they could share the knowledge with more than just themselves.
The recent grads had mutual interests in Public Interest Design and wanted to use this opportunity to explore Informal Settlements in South America. Informal settlements, also known as slums or favelas, are essentially illegally occupied areas of cities and typically occur in developing countries when cities are unable to accommodate rapid population growth. Informal settlements face many serious problems including lack of access to safe housing, clean water, electricity, health services and other basic infrastructure.
By 2050 one in four people will be living in informal settlements.
“Affordable housing in impoverished towns is about affordability,” Abe said. “It’s about the absence of design. We want to help raise architects’ value in society by showcasing the significant work being done in these places that typically don’t have access to design services. This work is good for the profession and good for the people being served.”
The two secured additional funding to afford video equipment in hopes to film a documentary of their time exploring informal communities and interviewing architects, academics, government agencies and nonprofits. With cameras in hand, they set off to South America to explore five cities well versed in the troubles of overpopulation and underdevelopment.
Abe and Brian quickly realized just how apparent the divide in social classes was. They could see a great contradiction in Rio, a city known for it’s really nice beaches and rich people but the slums are never fully out of sight.
“The best views in the cities are from the roofs of the poorest houses.”
Their journey took them through a very real depiction of the way many people live today. It showed the dangers of our population growing at rapid speeds, and gave a look at what a great need there is for help in affordable housing. Abe and Brian were given the opportunity to explore just exactly why they were drawn to architecture. Now, they want to share it with others.
Stay tuned for the Within Formal Cities trailer this summer. To learn more visit here: www.withinformalcities.