As Architecture students, it can be inferred that not only do we have a duty to build safe and habitable spaces, but aesthetically pleasing ones as well. This is a given when dealing with a wealthy client or organization, but what about those throughout the world who go without proper dwellings or consideration of ways to improve the quality of ones life, simply due to the fact that it is not economically feasible?  In a world where globalization is bringing cultures closer together and creating greater social awareness, we as emerging architects, should not only use our wide range of knowledge to help the immediate surroundings of our clients, but to find a way to improve the built environment in areas less fortunate.

Human vulnerability can be characterized as people living with uncertain livelihood options, precariously settled in structurally unsafe buildings.  A striking aspect of this vulnerability is the large number of people living in earthen structures within seismically active zones. This reality is exemplified by the earthquake which occurred this past summer around Pisco, Peru. The earthquake caused enormous damage to more than 80% of the adobe buildings. Although confined masonry is the preferred construction technique for families who can afford it, adobe is still the only economically viable alternative for most. 

Presently reconstruction efforts are focused on encouraging residents to build with reinforced masonry, but the reality is that once these volunteers leave, or their funding runs out, people living in these areas will not be able to afford to continue with these enhanced types of construction.  The goal then, is to come up with a hybrid of earthen construction found in the area that incorporates what is known of structural reinforcement with found or recycled objects that can contribute to improved tensile strength. This hybrid will allow for the rebuilding of Pisco at an affordable, yet highly stable level.

Once these improved construction methods have been established, an education Facility will be designed that addresses the many other negative issues associated with Earthen Construction such as durability and its perception as a vernacular and therefore inferior building material. The goal will be to establish a hands-on learning environment that brings scientific research to the hands of those actually building in Pisco, to teach them how to re-build as well as improve their current approach to Earthen construction.

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