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Effort aims to design better Habitat for Humanity homes

Associated Press

Pontiac — A two-year effort in suburban Detroit involving Lawrence Technological University is working to improve the design of homes for those served by Habitat for Humanity.

During the first semester of the collaboration, graduate architecture students conducted research into the needs of those who get housing through Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County. During the second semester, they’ll be designing structures. A home eventually will be built for an Oakland County family.

Department of Architecture Chairman Scott G. Shall, an associate professor in the Southfield-based school’s College of Architecture and Design, is directing the effort. It began last fall of as a way to encourage architecture students to build viable communities.

“We looked at how a community can be developed, different ways of building that will be more inclusive, democratic and affordable,” Shall said in a statement.

Shall’s nonprofit, the International Design Clinic, and the university’s makeLab fabrication workshop are also partners in the effort. Professors Jim Stevens and Ayodh Kamath, both members of the Lawrence Tech faculty, also are involved in the collaboration.

The hope, Shall said, is that the Lawrence Tech students’ work will lead to “a way of designing and constructing the work that can house more families, more sustainably, for less money, while still building into the ideas of family and community and faith.”

Tim Ruggles, CEO and executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, said the effort “is not only education- and technology-driven, but it is really about grassroots community development — how do you improve the social fabric of a community through architecture and design?”

The nonprofit Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County has built and renovated homes for more than 190 families over the last two decades, seeking to help cut down on substandard housing. Worldwide, Habitat for Humanity has built and renovated hundreds of thousands of homes.