Peter Williams is the founder and executive director of an organization whose goal is to improve global health, using design to create healthier environments as preventative measures for tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments, or ARCHIVE for short, has projects in countries all over the world, including Haiti, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. ARCHIVE identifies and addresses the causes of poor health in disadvantages communities and uses strategies related to housing design improvements to create environments that promote better health.
ARCHIVE has a variety of methods, between preventative and treatment-based, this organization seeks to understand the needs of communities and providing the best solutions based on research of diseases and the influences of housing. ARCHIVE’s first project was in Saint-Marc, Haiti, dealing with a TB problem in addition to the need for new housing. Many of these medical conditions are compounded with lack of access to clean air, food, water and housing allowing diseases to spread rapidly through towns and devastating communities.
In 2011, ARCHIVE held a competition to test how to develop housing for Saint-Marc, calling upon architects, engineers, and physicians from all over the world to submit their designs. After prototyping 5 projects, ARCHIVE broke ground for the development of “Kay E Sante Nan Ayiti” (Health and Housing in Haiti). The winner of the ARCHIVE’s competition, the Breathe House, considers elements of natural light and ventilation, access to clean water and renewable energy using passive environmental systems. The house is designed using regional building industries and local building trades. The construction of Breathe House made it accessible to local, less skilled workers, making it replicable. The team that produced the designed comprised of: Anselmo Canfora (assistant professor of architecture); Richard Guerrant (medical doctor); Ewan Smith (engineer); Galen Staengl (engineer); Michael Stoneking (architect); Aja Bulla-Richards, Sara Harper, Sally Lee, Nathan Parker, Chase Sparling-Beckley, Lauren Thompson (architecture students)
Minnesota Public Radio interviewed Peter Williams earlier this month. In the conversation, Williams describes the specific building techniques and material choices that were adapted to the communities within Saint-Marc. This also includes training and skills development for future development, ensuring that communities would be able to build with the same techniques once ARCHIVE completes its development. In addition to the housing program, ARCHIVE is focusing on nutritional programs for sustainable and nutrient-rich agriculture.
Listen to the full interview here.