A 9.3 scale undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean was caused by the subduction of the Indian Plate by the Burma Plate on 26 Dec 2004. Amongst 14 other countries, Aceh and Meulaboh in North Sumatra experienced a death toll of 280,000 in 10m high sea waves from the resulting tsunami. Singapore-based Mercy Relief team (funded by Red Cross) with the support of both Singapore Armed Forces and the Indonesian Army were active in disaster relief over the next few months.
A fourth year studio conceived a housing settlement for 1000 survivors in 5hA of land, focussing on environmental health in a site with no infrastructure for water and sanitary provisions. River fish tested positive for excessive amounts of ammonia and E.coli bacteria was already present in all well-water drinking sources. Environmental pollution is exacerbated when architects focus only on housing.
The settlement plan thus prevented further groundwater contamination by untreated sewage, and sustains food supply beyond the interim sources of air- own international aid. The infrastructure design facilitated an economic plan with wastewater management strategies in enabling environmental (and emotional) recovery.
Studio projects explored landscape as water filter and cashcrop production as socio-economic engines of a village housing community. Farmhouses, workshops, distribution centres are designed integrally with communal spaces for sharing of food, recreation and surviving children to play. Whilst the surau and marketplace are central gateways to a protected settlement, individual houses are constructed in customized preference from starter kits to store rice, grain seeds and medicine. These essentials can be provided by NGOs in addition to portable water filtration devices.