A project to develop an alternative form of permanent, low-cost and appropriate housing for low-income communities in El Salvador. The design blends modern engineering principles and technologies with a traditional construction method, creating a low-tech house design that is immediately familiar to local communities, but with a modern look that makes it very popular. The design uses renewable materials such as timber and cane, making it more sustainable than existing designs and providing a new livelihood for rural communities. The design also utilises new technologies that make it exceptionally earthquake resistant.
The judges were particularly impressed by the way the structural engineering team, working on a pro bono basis, were able to embrace local vernacular wisdom and skills, then apply wider technical knowledge to enhance the end product through the sensitive and intelligent use of more durable materials. This is an outstanding example of structural engineers interacting with end-users on emotional, technical, cultural and creative levels, to deliver massive community benefit.