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The Architect of the Community - A Participative Designing Method

Keyword: Community Participation & Urban Governance


A participative design method for structure modification of dwellings based on the tight relation between architect and the family-customer by means of a detailed study of the place and inquiries among the members of the family using psychoanalysis technics.


According to statistics about 60/80 % of dwellings are modified or reformed during the useful life, usually without the proper technical assistance resulting unfavorable solutions which demonstrates the need to involve an architect in the social context where these facts are taking place. In order to succeed, it is unavoidable to change the mind of the professionals whose formation does not includes this type of service. The method is applied in Cuba following two stages:

Primary Information and Creativy (Feasability Studies)
The Primary Information Stage includes three steps: Information of the Place: The architect visits the place making a detailed surveying, a review of the general technical state and gathers the possible information.

Information of the customer: Meeting the family customer (all adult members) to go over all details about the house, the family and links house/family. The inquiry is lead by means of a sequence of games previously explained to the customers.

Information of resources: In our case the main factor is construction material.

The Creativity Stage: By means of the method developed by architect Rodolfo Livingston, the architect obtains several partial solutions including those never found when seeking for a logical solution by going straight. These methods incentivate the mind in order to break the prevailing idea. Having all the information, possible solutions (at least 4) are designed and submitted to the customer following a detailed information. The customer have the choice to ask for a further service that is the Manual of Instructions with details on finishing, resources and a general view of the projected modifications
including a drawing and a full explanation written or recorded.
The fee is fixed for each step of the job and the total value ranks from 180.00 to 280.00 pesos according to the complexity of the assistance.


The experience of about two years shows that 4500 family-customers received the assistance of the Groups and all were pleased with results. 143 architects and engineers are working in 37 offices. The action of the Group of Architects helped to decrease the preassure upon local authorities by those families with housing problems. The Method helps benefitiaries to feel themselves as acting parties instead of receptioning ideas and opinions from others. By means of the strong communication Architect/Family-Customer it is possible to avoid mistakes when projecting or remodeling dwellings. The best solution with the minimum costs is always found.
The Method gives the architects a new dimension of its work, less formal and more humanized.
By giving attention to housing problems by this means, a greater portion of the population is benefited, the usefulness of the dwelling is extended and living conditions are improved.
The objective of the program in Cuba is to service all municipalities with urban centers of some importance
(more than 10,000 inhabitants)


l. The project is applied all over the country and about 5,000 families were benefited up to date.

2. Once the Groups acquires experience they become self reliant.

3. The success is showed in the satisfaction of the families, the increasing demand and the self satisfaction of architects that finds the activity useful and creative.


    7a, no.701
    Ciudad de la Habana
    Miramar, Playa
    Apartado postal 3604
    22-7349 Tele-Fax (537) 330105


    HABITAT-CUBA - Society for Housing and Urbanism
    7 st. Nž 701, Miramar, Playa
    Havana City
    227349, fax (53.7)330105


    CIMADE, Service oecumenique d'entraide Paris, France
    Arq. Selma Diaz Llera
    7a. no.701 esq. 41
    Ciudad de la Habana
    Miramar, Playa
    Apartado Postal 3604
    23 7413

    Memorial Center "Martin Luther King Jr." Havana City, Cuba
    Arq. Rodolfo Hdez. Matos esq. 41
    Ciudad de la Habana
    Miramar, Playa
    Apartado postal 3604
    22-7349; Tele-Fax (537) 330105

    National Housing Institute
    Arq. Natalia Patricia Vago esq. 41
    Ciudad de la Habana
    Miramar, Playa
    Apartado postal 3604
    22-7349; Tele-Fax (537) 330105

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