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Maria Rosenda Flores, is a janitress at TEC de Monterrey who was living with two daughters and three grandchildren in a 23 m2 (260 f2) room, while she was chosen to get a house from the Ten Houses for Ten Families Program, now called Urban Impulse. Students, volunteers and family members collaborated to design and build the house and in the process established a social network that was crucial to complete the project and to continue with other projects.
Urban Impulse is a service-learning program, at TEC de Monterrey, in which students, volunteers and beneficiaries work collaboratively to improve the wellbeing of low-income communities by designing and implementing products and services for housing and public spaces. The goal of the program is to increase the sense of citizenship and to strengthen the ethical values among participants. In the process, all stakeholders develop skills and capacities for their own benefit and help them discover the opportunities for individual, community and professional development.
As noted by Javier Leal, a former student in Urban Impulse, the house is not just about the construction of a building, but a statement for how things could be done to dignify the lives of others. In the end, Rosenda´s house is an example of how waste becomes a resource for a better living, a lesson by the way, learned from slum dwellers who are the experts on recycling, re-use and super-use. The challenge for the team is how to replicate the model so that others could take advantage of the systems integrated into the house.
Rosenda lives in the Nuevo Almaguer neighborhood of Guadalupe, Nuevo León, México. The neighborhood is a slum in which the average monthly income of families is US$ 250, and where the public services like potable water and sewerage are not operating fully. As most low-income neighborhoods, Nuevo Almaguer lacks appropriate facilities for health, education, culture and so on, but most people in the community keep the hope that things could be better in the future and work diligently every day in a self-help mode to improve their living conditions.
Rosenda´s new home is a 60 m2 (646 f2) dwelling unit built during 2009. In the construction, about 40% of the materials have recycled content, were re-used or supper-used materials. The house inaugurated in March 2010 is prepared to collect rain water and will re-used grey water to maintain plants and threes in the courtyard and the sidewalk.
Most of the materials used were collected from the city and particularly from the neighborhood. Some of the materials used include off code freezer doors, classroom doors, railroad tides for exterior door, fiberglass panels, creatively spent as concrete molds for a university construction project. Concrete planters and discarded wood were used for the interior stairs and the outside deck of the house.The north facade windows were made from vending machine doors that are made with three layers of glass and argon gas in between.
The house is used intensively as a pedagogical model to demonstrate students and other groups how different systems (water, energy, materials, food and solid waste) make the house function as a living organism with everything is inter-connected. In this case for the most low-income housing, Rosenda´s house will gain value as it gets improved over time. The design process was based on a trash-to-treasure philosophy in which the waste from one system becomes food for another system.
As a construction system model, the house has become an important reference for neighbors on the same street where the 10x10 team has developed an architectural proposal for six other families.
As put by Javier Leal, a former student in Urban Impulse, the house is not just about the construction of a building, but a statement for how things could be done to dignify the lives of others. In the end, Rosenda´s house is an example of how trash becomes a resource for a better living, a lesson by the way, learned from slum dwellers who are the experts on recycling, re-use and super-use. The challenge for the team is how to replicate the model so that others could take advantage of the systems integrated into the house.