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Pavement for Las Lomas, Bara Safarova, London Metropolitan University

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[The Resourceful Architect] A DIY instruction manual for making and installing paving slabs for the deprived communities living in ‘colonias’ in Texas

‘Colonias’ are informal settlements tagged to cities along the Mexican border, not formally accepted into the physical or administrative service grids of their hosts. The result is a lack of basic infrastructure such as sewerage, post delivery and pavements. The residents are nearly all Hispanic and unemployment is high.

Las Lomas is an exemplary colonia. Its residents, led by Blanca Juarez, created an action group, Colonias Unidas, and found ways of getting basic services installed. Still, the two-decade old colonia lacks public space, street lighting and footpaths.

‘Pavement for Las Lomas’ is a proposal delivered in the form of a simple DIY manual. If every neighbour does a bit of the pavement, in front of their own fence, the parts will connect into a network. The manual describes the method and even lets the design get out of hand, be appropriated, personalised and perhaps fail, in parts.

The delivery of the project relies on IMPACT 2001 by Texas A&M University, a hydraulic machine for the production of unfired bricks from local soil, caliche. Investments would be a nominal fee for the set of instructions and the machine rental; time, labour and a bit of learning.

The number of potential clients is high: 3,000 in Las Lomas and there are 1,500 colonias in Texas.

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