Designed to help many - designed to rebuild together.
Rebuild by Atelier AHA
As someone who grew up in eight different houses, in many different neighbourhoods during my childhood, I have a deep appreciation for what it feels like to be displaced.
And for someone who has lost their home, I know that their loss is far greater than just a building that has been burnt down.
It will take time for things to feel normal again. And it will take time to rebuild life.
But as a priority, getting a roof over one's head - one's own roof - is key to begin feeling secure again, and starting the real recovery.
It's the place where new memories can be made. It's the place where new life can be given a home.
Photography by Joshua Collings
As an Architect, I know the processes of design and building can take a long time and that's exactly why we started designing in early in January, when we could see the scale of impact from the bushfires escalating. It's also why we began personally reaching out to people affected - because if left unto it's own, the process of recovering can be tougher than the disaster itself.
Having previously worked on many, much larger projects, we have breadth of experience in design, to strategically help build things efficiently, quickly and at scale. The biggest hurdle often comes down to cost, but in this circumstance we've known our way of design and thinking could save people time, money and stress - so over the last 3 months my team and I have been furiously working on a solution that aims to do just that.
With the help of our first contact to make local connections and understand what's already happening on-the-ground, we've been designing a home for Josh and his family (affectionately our Client 0), in a way that could make 'home' a reality for many others who've also lost theirs to the bushfires across Australia.
Rebuild Concept-A by Atelier AHA Architects
My expertise is in systems thinking, design and building technology, and coordinating large teams. As such, I know what is possible, and I know we can help many, if we work systematically, together and at a certain volume. In realising this early, our team have been designing and liasing with the other experts and suppliers who may be required for the broader task, in coordination with the network of local connections Josh has made while helping fire affected communities. But right now, we need your help. We need to know how many household we can reach, and how many are willing to come on this journey with us, to achieve a long term solution, and together, Rebuild.
To help us succeed in a pioneering endeavour like this, we need to organise the specific challenges of rebuilding a home for each affected household, in each of their unique sites. If you or someone you know are interested in getting help from this initiative to Rebuild, please click on the following survey, and fill in your details, to help us know your exact situation; assess how we'll be able to best help the collective group; and connect with you to organise for the task ahead.
Our strategy could streamline the process of getting permits; reduce the labour of specialists, trades and suppliers; reduce material costs and waste; and consolidate the efforts of everyone helping us in this initiative, by saving time, hassle, and simplifying this challenge - to make a real home, of permanence, that is kind on the environment, and the people that live in it.
Urgency has been the priority since we began our work in January, and we're acutely aware of disaster recovery solutions that we believe are less than ideal. We're also aware of suggestions to expend lot of Emergency Funding on temporary solutions - and we know how (not) fond people are of the ideas of being housed in a "Donger" (Portable Building's commonly used on construction sites), indefinetely.
So, believe us when I say, my team and I are not in the business of designing human storage, and again, it is why we began our excercise as Architects so early - to try and overcome less than ideal options, like this, from surfacing as the only valid solution to this challenge that is affecting many.
We are working in a Disaster Situation, and as such, please be mindful we are prioritising the timeliness and functional needs, ahead of "boutique architectural" appearances, so we can build a number of great, sustainable homes, for many people, urgently.
Like any Architect, our objective is to make something beautiful, but in order to help many we must set limits on how bespoke our design efforts can be. This is both in order to ensure it is financially accessible to the majority who need our assistance most, and to alleviate the risks and labour of everyone offering their hands and efforts to help in this bold initiative.
We are conscious there may be people who are particularly interested in engaging in a highly bespoke design process and outcome, without concern for greater costs or timeframes, and so we kindly suggest that those seeking this sort of process to seek out other architectural services offering assistance, or contact us separately to discuss your needs.
And to confirm, we're not designing "tiny houses"; we're not designing "dongers", and; we're not designing "McMansions" either.
We'll release further design concept information as we proceed, but it will be based on the initial survey responses we recieve, in order to best accomodate those with immediate needs.
Again, if you are, or know someone who we can help, please fill in the survey >>HERE<<, and we'll be connecting with respondants soon.
If you have any queries, feel free to contact us direct for a live-chat on social media (Instagram @atelieraha or on Facebook/Messenger @atelierahaArchitects)
Hiranga Goonawardena //Director of Atelier AHA Architects
Updates: 25/03/20 - In the context of Coronavirus and the variety of factors that could emerge or delay progress, I want to highlight that Atelier AHA is a (99.9%) paperless practice and we've worked on many projects remotely and overseas before, so our processes for communication and operation have been largely unaffected. However, this may not be the case with other consultants, trades and suppliers whom we may need to work with.
Regardless of this, we will be using our expertise and knowledge of the industry to alleviate risks that may arise, as best as we can, given these changing circumstances.