An acronym for architecture for health in vulnerable environments, ARCHIVE Global believes design can help combat disease. A recent pilot project confirms the belief. In 2014, the nonprofit launched Health From the Ground Up, an initiative to improve conditions for the disadvantaged in Southeast Asia. Upon learning that thousands of Bangladeshi children die due to parasites harbored in the dirt floors often used in their homes, the team focused on a single basic element: new flooring material. They chose poured concrete, not only easy to maintain and less likely to transmit disease but also able to be installed by local masons. A month after installation in 10 homes, post-construction surveys revealed no new infections in the children living there.
“Women also felt liberated from their usual cleaning regimes, allowing them time to seek employment outside the home,” William Horgan says. He’s a partner at Grimshaw, which joined forces with ARCHIVE last year to develop a more cost-effective template, so the program could be rolled out on a grander scale. Called Health, Housing and Hygiene, the joint program has given 55 more homes new floors, and the two entities are working together to secure funding to complete another 200 before summer.