Community & Home Design:
This project consists of 55 homes which makes it one of the smaller communities that New Story will build. As mentioned above this project is part II of the Ahuachapán community. Part I consists of 91 homes, and families moved in September 18, 2017. Part I and Part II are literally right next to each other and are separated by a small but beautiful local cemetery. This land was given to us by the mayor of Ahuachapán when we committed to doing phase I of Ahuachapán and we couldn’t develop it until now.
Here we have an early-stage design for the community layout of Ahuachapán phase II. In the center of the community is a triangle with some communal space and a few homes. The tree that was left on the center of the triangle is a beautiful big mango tree that everyone agreed had to stay. This community was designed with safety in mind. Parents want to be able to watch their kids play and keep them in the community and this setup offered the most protection and comfort to the families.
New Story works with a fabulous team of volunteer urban designers who help us create designs like the one above. Our designers create a few options we present them to the future home recipients for feedback in our Lean Participatory Design Session. The design above is the result based on the feedback the community gave on the initial designs. It is key to our process that the families have a say in how their community is built, since they know the area best and will be living there for generations to come.
In the picture above you can see the floor plan for the homes we are building in Ahuachapán. Each home costs $6,948 to build and has three bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and a bathroom with a flushing toilet!
The homes in Ahuachapán have unique features designed to best complement the lifestyles of the local Salvadoran people. For example, each home has a roof overhang on one side and under that overhang is an outdoor sink. The overhang offers them a shaded space to rest, cook, socialize or work during the day when it is hot out. Salvadorans enjoy eating and cooking outside, so the homes were uniquely built to accommodate their lifestyle.
Community Innovation Test
In Ahuachapán 2 we are currently testing a data-driven home improvement. Next door, in Ahuachapán 1, post-construction surveys showed that almost a third of home recipients started a business. When asked about their business, numerous people said they wanted to be able to sell items over the counter from the safety of their home. After getting this feedback we decided to test out large rectangular windows in the homes, facing the main street of the community, specifically designed to act as shop windows. Our hope is to see if these larger, front-facing windows encourage and support local businesses. Ahuachapán 2 is the first community we have tested these windows in and we are excited to see how the local economy responds.
Even though a window may seem like a small detail, these details add up to what is a loving, comfortable home in a thriving community. Measuring our impact and finding ways to improve these small details is a crucial part of our process. We will keep you updated on the results after families move in and we can collect data.