Founded in 2004, Streetlight is an orphanage and school organisation based in Tacloban, Philippines that provides education and basic medical care to the children of the orphanage and the neighbouring communities. In 2010 Workshop Architecture designed and built a new Study Centre for Streetlight with the residents of the nearby informal settlement of the Seawall community, one of the most deprived communities in Tacloban with high levels of disease, illiteracy and unemployment.
Typhoon Haiyan, by some measurements the most powerful storm ever recorded, swept through the Philippines in November 2013 causing mass devastation. An estimated 7,000 lost their lives, 2,000 people were missing and many more struggled to survive in the aftermath. The coastal areas of Tacloban were completely flattened and the Seawall area was almost completely erased with only two houses left standing. Streetlight served as a refuge during the storm but the new Study Centre was swept away and the other buildings were badly damaged.
Following the devastating impact of typhoon Haiyan, Streetlight secured funding to rebuild their own infrastructure and to provide housing assistance for the community within Seawall that has been associated with Streetlight. Led by Habitat for Humanity and in partnership with local and national government and international aid associations, the decision was taken to relocate the city further inland due to the severe risk from future natural disasters. A new site has been secured in Barangay, Tagpuro and a masterplan drawn up that will accommodate a new orphanage as well as a village of approximately 100 houses for Seawall residents. The orphanage itself will consist of two dormitory blocks, an office building, a four-bed clinic, a function hall and a study centre.
The project is already underway and is being led by Alex Furunes of Workshop Architecture and Jago Boase, on sabbatical from Ramboll London. They will be joined by Ramboll graduate engineers Alice Bond and Philippe Ayache to help complete the design, run workshops with the local community and aid in the construction management of the new facilities. Focussing on the dormitory block development, Alice and Philippe are due to present the results of their studies into seismic behaviour and the effects of high winds on the building to the leading engineering practise. They will also provide on-site supervision for the erection of timber and manage community design workshops. Ramboll’s team of engineers in London and Southampton are providing additional support including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), structural engineering, civil engineering, infrastructure and sustainability services.
The rebuilding will focus on using sustainable technologies, local materials and practises. Following the model of the previous Study Centre, the design will be carried out through a series of workshops with all key parties involved acting as a platform to exchange skills, ideas and knowledge. A key aspect of the project will be to involve the community in the design and construction at every possible opportunity. All materials and skilled labour will be sourced from the community to help strengthen local businesses, local knowledge and craft, including the principles of good design that will lead to long term improved employment opportunities for those involved.