June 2011 Archives

June 30, 2011

The Mangyan Challenge: A Letter from Ian Fraser

Dear $300 House members,

I have followed with interest your design contest (even submitted an entry) and as the winners are announced I would request you consider an opportunity to field trial a/some most suitable designs in a real world situation.

I am trying to develop a self-help project to provide low cost, suitable housing, and a sustainable job/income for poor people particularly in the Philippines.

mangyan.jpgI am exploring working with a village of Mangyan people in the Puerto Galera area of Mindoro Island and I would ask you consider them as recipients of one or more of the successful design outcomes of the contest.

What I need is simply the design information and rights and a working relationship with the designers of a suitable $300 house that is worth investing over $20,000 to build 60 houses.

I advise that many outcomes could ride on the house design "working" and a lot of goodwill could be won or lost by the results achieved. The 60 houses I propose to build are only a small fraction of what is eventually required.

I am not working with the whole Mangyan population  The group I am working with is only one village and while they are 100% Mangyan people they are mostly in transition from their traditional hill-tribe culture into the today's life, culture and economy of the Philippines . They are maintaining many of their traditional values such as strong village group bonding, sense of culture and community, sharing, hard work and passive nature.

They struggle because of limited educational opportunities in the past but are trying hard to ensure their children receive education, health care and other benefits.

Some are share farming, some making handicrafts for sale in nearby tourist areas and some working as guides and labourers for the resorts and in the town. But, they do it very tough. Their houses are frankly very sub-standard and on a recent visit I was shocked. The photos I have included here are some of the better examples.

Their community is in many other ways very functional - they have a primary school and resident teacher; a church and resident minister/teacher; a community meeting place; limited town water-supply and some solar power.

They appear to have a well organized community management structure - it has respect, authority and is consultative and involving.

The leaders are currently having preliminary discussions regarding my proposal to build low cost houses for each of the 60 families in the village.

I stress this is not a headlong crash into a delicate sociological situation.  The project I propose addresses an immediate needs of a village that is well into cultural transition but struggling with very poor housing. The project treads carefully and only after wide consultation - especially it is lead by the people themselves. They have many advisers as well and I envisage the project will be ongoing for at least three years. The houses however could be built within 6 months - according to the level of local participation. A slower build rate would be desirable to enable training and high levels of villager involvement..

The village is located near an easily accessed major town and in reasonable proximity to Manila the capitol of the Philippines. I am confident that one or other of the major universities located in Manila - such as University of The Philippines, Ateneo De Manila, De La Salle or other would be interested to participate in this project from an advisory and academic point of view.

I have almost certainly secured financial support to build 60 houses with an average cost of $300 i.e. approximately US$20,000. I believe strongly that  other support programs are needed by this community all aimed at creating employment, land ownership and economic sustainability of this group. I am also working on these aspects. For example the villagers needs land to which they have clear title before the houses can be built. This is a priority matter at the moment.

There are many possibilities that can spring from this housing project for this village and in general I can see some very interesting possibilities if there was a house for $300.

About me: I am an Australian and semi-retired; briefly my back ground is as a businessman involved in R&D and manufacture of very advanced scientific components. At the same time I was a senior member of a consortium of Australian businesses that did many small development projects in S E Asia over 15 years (total value ~$150 million) - mainly in Indonesia - such as establishing/upgrading Environmental Monitoring Laboratories, Agricultural Science teaching and research laboratories, Occupational Health and Safety Laboratories.

I am a past Chairman of the Australian Scientific Industry Association, a founding director of the Technology Industry Exporters Group as well as various roles in commercialization committees interacting with universities etc.

Thank you for your time regarding this matter

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ian Fraser

IanFraser [ at ] sydney [dot] net

June 27, 2011

Awaken Mozambique: A letter from Felisberto Tole

Felisberto Tole is the team leader in Beira, Mozambique for Awaken Mozambique - an organization founded by an Australian college professor. He has just recovered, we've learned, from a fight with malaria.

I am writing to you from Awaken Mozambique an association here in Beira, Sofala Province, Mozambique. We would like to know how can we assist you , or what kind of information you need from us, and we can then take it from there. 

We have a lot of people in a situation of almost homeless or living in sheds. so  we look forward  to hear from you as far as we are concerned we are ready to help you help our nation in providing housing.

Rambique 089.jpg

We are engaged in helping the people to come out of extreme poverty by teaching and giving them money  for them to learn to do small businesses, so that they will be able to support their families, send their children to school, and afford to get medical help.

Rambique 085.jpg

Our target group are those people who,poor, who are living in desperate situations, most in rent house which are in very bad state, vulnerable to mosquitoes that causes malaria, cholera, most of them are not educated, without employment, and those with employment the salary is less than 100 USD - Imagine ? House to pay rent, food, 5 -7 kids in families and that is not counting with the other relatives, schooling, medicine as you can see the list goes on and on, these people have no access to Banks because the interest rate are very high and they have nothing to secure.

So these are the kind of people we are seeking to help, so that they might be able to help themselves through the business.

Rambique 082.jpg

Our biggest challenges are funds to enable us help the people. We are on a very high demand here, for the word of mouth about us has gone very far but we are not able to satisfy many due to the lack of finances.

We need training, coaching and expertise in creating businesses or services they will generate income for these families to run, which are reasonable to their level.

We need people to sponsor small businesses and yes keep in touch with them and see how your money can change a family for the better forever.

Well this can go on and on. But in general this is what we do and who we are and this is our heart.

If you have any questions please do contact.

Please find attached some photos as examples of the housing situations here.( may i add : houses without water , electricity - people use paraffin lamp and drink well water ... most because they can't afford to buy clean water )

Best Regards


June 15, 2011

$300 House: Open Design Challenge Winners

What began as a challenge in a blog post on the Harvard Business Review website has resulted in a collection of 300 design submissions from around the world. The $300 House Open Design Challenge is complete, with judges picking their final selections after much deliberation, and an extension, in order to go through the entries in detail.

Winners were selected in combination with votes from the community and a panel of judges comprised of expert designers, architects, and thought leaders. The winners share $25000 in total prize money which includes $10,000 in cash awards to the top 16 placements as voted by the community itself, and $15,000 in scholarships to attend a prototyping workshop for six participants (three selected by the community, and three by the judges panel).

The winners of the prototyping workshop scholarship are (listed by username):

An award of recognition for corporate participation goes to a team from Mahindra Partners - the jurors decided to judge corporate entries separately.

"We're delighted by the depth and breadth of the submissions we received," says Vijay Govindarajan, Professor of International Business and the Founding Director of Tuck's Center for Global Leadership. "Hosting this contest on Jovoto's open, co-creation platform gave us a wealth of ideas and identified the people who we believe have the passion, skill, and commitment, to take the project to the next level, prototyping and actually building a $300 house for the poor. We invite all the participants to continue the discussion at www.300house.com."

June 10, 2011

Results on June 15

The judges for the $300 House Open Design Challenge have requested more time to make their decision.  According to Dartmouth professor Vijay Govindarajan, the request for extra time is not unreasonable. "We want our judges to take their time, deliberate, and select the best designs. After all, we have 300 designs to go through - I'm not surprised we're overwhelmed, " he explains.

The new date for the announcement of the winners has been set at June 15.  We hope that the community understands why the judges are taking the extra time, and we look forward to sharing the results with everyone on that date.

Our Rebuttal to the $300 House Op-Ed in the NY Times

Have they stopped fact-checking at the New York Times

That's the question I asked myself when I saw the op-ed they ran on the $300 House.

VG and I wrote a rebuttal - here - on the Harvard Business Review blog.

Please let us know what you think by posting your comments at HBR, underneath the rebuttal.

June 9, 2011

A Letter from Jan Honza Tilinger

Note: the letter has been slightly edited to make the author's meaning more clear... Christian

After building several houses in Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia) and Asia (Srilanka, Nepal). I decided to create my own association - Surya - which would take the problems on more comprehensively.

Most of (European) NGOs work in this way: for example there are money for women rights in Pakistan, so they go there and quickly use (waste) the money in "correct" way, but without concept, without cooperate with another projects etc... many times they create different types of disbalances like make some part of community make too much money (redistributing power in community), or by creating black markets by giving things for free etc.

For me, it was most important to solve problem complexly. Out of all problems I met on my way I found out the lack of education the main problem to be solved. I didn't like to support hospital projects in Africa, where European doctors would give care to locals as long there are money and when there are no more money doctors leave and the situation is same as before. Neither giving to fisherman houses many kilometers away from the sea like I saw in Sri Lanka.

I started 2002 creating school design for Himalayas village Kargyak with special climate 4 days walk distant from nearest road. After 2 years of collecting data from the area,  I graduated with school design at Czech Technical Uni (2004). 2006 I started Civic Association Surya to build the school. Using only local materials and technique which the local people can learn by helping.

2006 we built green house to collect climatic data from the area as model house. 2007 we started the teaching in rented space, and made the main ground work on site, 2008 the school was finished. Since then we measure internal and external climate and helping locals to create their own green houses, but the main think is the education and if necessary also first aid.

So in short what I think is necessary:

1) ethnology and sociology - what the local people need and who is the representative of the community (who we can and want to talk to represent all the community) , do I want to support it, is it possible to manage, how much local community will participate to accomplish

2) research on site
    a) local technologies, materials available and its properties, people skills, prices. (how far are some more skilled people or additional material, how are the transport possibilities)
    b) climate conditions: temperatures, wind, seismicity, rainfall.. etc
    c) animals: termites, spiders, snakes, monekys, rats, mosquitoes (and diseases)...etc.
    d) logistics, existing infrastructure or possibilities to create it (tresh management, water, electricity)

3) site, place which the community would use and owner would provide it for project (and the conditions to do so)(in many places people even do not know their fields are not their property)

4) design and plan of incorporation in existing or planed infrastructure, based on 1) 2) 3)

5) sharing the design with local people and making the agreement with than how the building will look like and will work. Creating the RULES about how much and when is community, you or municipality working for the project and what they provide (in many places it does not work in the way by signing the contract...the agreement is something that must be re insured repeatedly) ... etc.

6) reevaluation based on the feedback from the community

7) making a model structure (could be just simple testing construction or a part of it) in the place where it will be used - prototypes and its testing

8) evaluation of data and testing of building

9) pilot project - testing and feedback from the community

10) at least one year later we can evaluate data and start implementation for the one particular site.

11) house evaluation and recommendations for other projects

12) after 1, 3, 5 years evaluation of local impact of the project (social, economical, environmental )

It is probably not full list of guidelines to success but if we skip some points we can face sooner or later difficulties.

Jan Honza Tilinger, M.Eng.
Chairman of Civic Association Surya - www.surya.cz