Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie Announce New Excellence in Engineering Fellow


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Michelle Nicholson                                 Shelby Lentz
+1-812-369-5037                                  +1-925-560-9068
michelle@buildchange.org                 slentz@strongtie.com

International Nonprofit Social Enterprise Build Change and Global Structural Solutions Leader Simpson Strong-Tie Renew Joint Fellowship for Engineering Excellence and Introduce 2019-2020 Fellow

Denver, Dec. 19, 2019- Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie are excited to introduce the recipient of the 2019-2020 Excellence in Engineering Fellowship: Tim Hart.

This is the third year of the Fellowship, resulting from the continuation of a successful partnership between international nonprofit social enterprise Build Change and global structural solutions leader Simpson Strong-Tie. Complementing the Simpson Strong-Tie goal to design solutions for making structures safer and stronger, the fellowship allows innovative engineers the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to Build Change programs as well as support other engineers’ professional development in developing nations around the world.

This year’s fellow, Tim Hart, has 30 years of structural engineering and building construction experience. He’s a graduate with honors from the Architectural Engineering program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a licensed civil and structural engineer in California. He also served as past president and board member of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California.

“Build Change’s mission and values are in line with my own. I want to use my skills as a structural engineer to directly help people who are vulnerable to catastrophic loss from climate disasters. It’s a man-made problem with a man-made solution, and I want to be a part of that solution,” noted Hart.

Hart is currently Engineering and Design Services Director for Build Change. Prior to joining the organization’s senior management team, he worked with Build Change as a structural engineering consultant since 2005 providing engineering designs, peer reviews and technical assistance on Build Change projects in 10 different countries, including onsite work in Indonesia, Haiti and Nepal. He also volunteers time and expertise developing design and construction manuals and co-writing papers on confined masonry construction for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Confined Masonry Network.

“We’re very pleased to have Tim bring his years of technical expertise and dedication to service to the 2020 Fellowship role. Our first two Fellows brought lasting positive impact to developing areas in Colombia, Philippines and Haiti, and we’re looking forward to the continued work Tim will do to promote safer, stronger design and construction methods,” said Simpson Strong-Tie Vice President of Engineering Annie Kao.

Hart is the third professional to hold the Build Change-Simpson Strong-Tie fellowship. October, 2019 marked the completion of the tenure of the second fellow, Juan Carlos Restrepo. Hart, like his predecessors, will chronicle his fellowship experiences on the Simpson Strong-Tie Structural Engineering Blog at https://seblog.strongtie.com.

About Build Change

Build Change (@BuildChange) currently works in 18 countries to prevent loss of life and property in earthquakes and windstorms.  Because of Build Change’s work over the past 15 years, 332,000 people are living and learning in safer homes and schools.  Rather than wait until the next disaster strikes, Build Change has rapidly scaled its prevention work, convincing governments of countries like Colombia, Guatemala and the Philippines that safer housing needs to be a national priority.  Build Change is also a leader in the use of technology to help local engineers quickly diagnose what retrofits are needed to make a home safer.

The Founder and CEO of Build Change, Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, is one of the world’s foremost experts on resilient building and post-disaster reconstruction.  Her leadership of Build Change has grown the organization to over 200 staff on three continents.

About Simpson-Strong Tie

For more than 60 years, Simpson Strong-Tie has dedicated itself to creating structural products that help people build safer, stronger homes and buildings. Considered an industry leader in structural systems research, testing and innovation, Simpson Strong-Tie works closely with construction professionals to provide code-listed, field-tested products and value-engineered solutions. Our engineered structural products and systems are recognized for helping structures resist high winds, hurricanes and seismic forces. They include structural connectors, fasteners, fastening systems, lateral-force-resisting systems, anchors, software solutions, and product solutions for repairing, protecting and strengthening concrete. From product development and testing to training and engineering and field support, Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to helping customers succeed. For more information, visit strongtie.com and follow us on facebook.com/strongtie, twitter.com/strongtie, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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A Study into the Participation of Females in On-the-Job Training Delivered by Build Change and UNOPS

By Marie Meenan

In “A Study into the Participation of Females in On-the-Job Training Delivered by Build Change and UNOPS”, Meenan examines the factors which promote and inhibit female participation in masonry construction in Nepal.

In response to the 2015 Ghorka earthquakes, Build Change and UNOPS implemented two programs to help rebuild safer homes: 1) the Vulnerable Family Assistance and Targeting (VFAST) program in Dolakha district, 2) and the Social-Technical Facilitation and Consultation (STFC) program in Nuwakot district.

Both programs take a homeowner driven approach to earthquake reconstruction, focusing on engaging the entire community and raising awareness of earthquake related risks. Both programs pay particular attention to the vulnerable members of the communities —women, children, people with disabilities and those who are socially marginalized. As part of these programs, UNOPS and Build Change provide On-the-Job Training (OJT) events to teach important construction techniques to skilled and unskilled masons and thereby empower families to gain future employment. While the number of female masons trained by governmental and non-governmental organisations post-earthquake has been relatively low (approximately 10%), there has been high female participation during these OJT events. The VFAST and STFC OJT events boast 64% and 35% female participation rates respectively.

Prior to the analysis Meenan describes the adverse effects of the Ghorka earthquakes and the impact on the female society. She hones in on the importance of women in the reconstruction efforts, the issues and challenges faced during the process and analyzes the gaps, strengths and opportunities for women’s engagement.

Using available data and interviewing participants from both programs, Meenan examines which factors encourage and discourage female training.

In the VFAST program, female participation varied within different castes/ethnicities, which is suggested to be attributed to different cultural practices and values. For example, the Janajati caste possessed the highest percentage of female participants at 73%, whilst the Brahmin/Chhetri caste had the lowest,  recorded at 54%.

The main reason women participated was because of the opportunity to take part in paid work and learn useful skills relating to construction. It gave the women confidence and provided a potential source of independence. However, to maintain these benefits,  further opportunities needed to be available within their home village so that they could run in parallel to their household responsibilities.

A key message of Meenan’s report is that teaching communities how to build their own affordable, earthquake resistant houses is critical—not only as a post-disaster measure to re-house people, but as a preventative measure for protection against the inevitable future earthquakes.

Meenan hopes her findings can be used in future reconstruction projects in Nepal and further afield.

Please find the full report here:

A Photo Diary of My 5 Months with Build Change in Nepal

By Marie Meenan

Above the Clouds During my First Field Visit to Syangja

 

I was initiated into Nepal with a field visit to the Syangja district to witness the work that Build Change are conducting. There I was blown away by the breathtaking views. Each site boasted a unique scenery, every new location as stunning as the last. Trees cascaded down the mountains, the sun pierced the clouds and rhododendrons dotted the paths. We arrived at one site above the clouds and left after they dispersed, revealing the impressive valley below. I was in awe of the sights that the owners of these homes witness every day.

The views, however, weren’t the only thing that fascinated me. At each site, I was intrigued by the large number of female masonry trainees. Having studied mechanical engineering, I am starkly aware of the disparity between males and females in engineering and construction, and so the number of women I witnessed on sites was heartening. Speaking to Build Change engineers in the field, I discovered that there is high male migration into Kathmandu and out of the country. This obviously contributes to the significance of women in reconstruction after the 2015 earthquakes, but I wanted to know more. As Nepal is a very patriarchal society, women’s roles have little perceived value, despite obvious and vital contributions.  When I requested data from the Vulnerable Family Assistance and Training (VFAST) and Socio-Technical Facilitation and Consultation (STFC) projects, I discovered that female trainees amounted to 64% and 35% of the totals respectively, both far surpassing the target for female masonry trainees set by the government (which is a mere 10%). This sparked a curiosity in me which brought me to the field to interview trainees, past and present.

A Group of Interviewees from Dolokha

In Nuwakot and Dolokha, the districts where the VFAST and STFC projects were located, I conducted a number of interviews. The women there praised the training, saying it brought them the opportunity to learn a skill, something which many of them reported they had never been given the chance to do before. Many of their husbands were working abroad, but all were supported by their families. Many of these women speculated that family pressure may discourage more women from taking part, with one woman even commenting that women from more economically stable families may not feel the need to participate in income-generating activities.   These women were different though. They were all motivated to develop a skill of any kind, exercising their abilities to earn a wage, contributing to the economy of their villages, and gaining independence.

The role of women in disaster recovery and prevention is paramount. Too often, needs in these highly stressful situations are generalised, and women’s unique requirements are neglected. This is particularly short-sighted seeing as women and vulnerable people are disproportionately affected by disasters, whether it be in terms of mortality, or post- disaster, when the risk for human trafficking rises. The unique dangers women face are further exacerbated by gendered roles, where many women perform domestic activities inside vulnerable houses prone to damage and collapse. It is therefore crucial that women are given opportunities to gain independence. The substantial role women play in the reconstruction and retrofitting projects conducted by Build Change gives them this opportunity.

Laxmi, a training participant and interviewee from Charghare, Nuwakot
Maya, a training participant and interviewee from Nuwakot

My time in Nepal has been an unmatched adventure. Spending 5 months away from my friends and family, with an unfamiliar cuisine in a vastly different culture has awakened me to a diversity I am lucky to have experienced. I witnessed Nepal’s new year (the fifth new year to be celebrated that year) where young men pulled a colossal pole to the ground with ropes within an unmoving crowd in Bhaktapur, and tried traditional Newari food in Kirtupur (leaf tripe bag with bone marrow and chilled intestine).

I travelled on some of the most dangerous roads in the world, which felt like a three-hour ride on an old roller coaster. I para-glided in Pokhara over the famous lake with mountain views, which I can only describe as a seat in the sky. I camped beside the Trishuli River and stopped off during a site visit in an orange grove. We were engulfed by the citrusy smell and I was amazed by how the extensive grove was hidden by a modest home.

Masses of People Celebrating Nepal New Year
Men Sorting Oranges at the Huge Orange Grove on my Way Back from My First Field Visit
The View From Kirtipur Where I Tried the Newari Food
Celebrating Holi- The Festival of Colour

During Holi, the festival of colour, we were bombarded by children throwing water balloons and everyone smearing colourful powders on our faces. At a field visit to Kavrepalanchok, we stopped at the Namo Buddha Monastery and Stupa, where a reincarnation of Buddha supposedly gave his flesh to a starving tiger.

Every day boasted a colourful sunset, visible from the rooftop of my guesthouse (despite the pollution).  The vastness of Kathmandu seemed endless, blanketing the earth with disheveled shapes and uninterrupted colours.  Kathmandu’s cacophony of sounds are etched in my ears; dogs barking, incessant horns, and daily parades and weddings.  I am sure I will still hear them back home.

I have really adored my time here. The memories I have gained from Nepal are fondly embedded into my life and character, and the experience that volunteering with Build Change has given me will influence my thoughts and decisions for a lifetime.

The View From the Build Change Office
Hidden Building Near the Stupa
Full View of the Mountains During Hike to Chisapani
The Impressive Boudhanath Stupa
An Abandoned Building at Chisapani (Easy to See Why it Was Abandoned)
Rowing Boats on the Lake at Pokhara with the Mountains Close Behind

TED TALK – DURABLE HOUSING FOR A RESILIENT FUTURE

About the Talk

Durable housing for a resilient future. Around the world, natural disasters destroy thousands of lives and erase decades of economic gains each year. These outcomes are undeniably devastating and completely preventable, says mason Elizabeth Hausler — and substandard housing is to blame. It’s estimated that one-third of the world will be living in insufficiently constructed buildings by 2030; Hausler hopes to cut those projections with a building revolution. She shares six straightforward principles to approach the problem of substandard housing: teach people how to build, use local architecture, give homeowners power, provide access to financing, prevent disasters and use technology to scale. “It’s time we treat unsafe housing as the global epidemic that it is,” Hausler says. “It’s time to strengthen every building just like we would vaccinate every child in a public health emergency.”


This talk was presented at “We the Future,” a special event in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

Download Transcripts
About the Speaker

Dr. Elizabeth Hausler is the Founder and CEO of Build Change and a global expert on resilient building and post-disaster reconstruction. Elizabeth’s strategic direction and leadership has grown the organization from a few employees in 2004 to over 230 strong working on three continents in 2018. Her emphasis on rebuilding to withstand future disasters has distinguished Build Change from its peers, won international honors and profoundly influenced global development policy by making resilience a major consideration for reconstruction efforts in an era of ever-increasing natural disaster risks.


Watch and Learn More

Retrofitting for Prevention (Colombia) A 3-minute video that shares the stories of Nohelia and Maria, residents of informal neighborhoods in Medellin, who decided to retrofit their homes to reduce their risk of collapse in the next earthquake. [Spanish with English subtitles]

Usha’s Story: A Retrofitted Nepali Home This 10-minute video, produced with the financial support of DFID, has been seen by more than 70,000 people in Nepal. It documents Usha Didi’s decision to retrofit her house as well as the final product and impact on her family. [In Nepali with English subtitles]

Virtual Reality Tour of Eklephant, Nepal Take a virtual tour through Eklephant Village in Nepal! In partnership with Autodesk, Build Change has adapted Revit® software to rapidly design retrofits for similar types of buildings, greatly reducing the time required for design and gathering cost estimates.

AI for Retrofitting (Call for Code) A team of developers, coders, and volunteers from Build Change in Nepal were among the top three finalists in the global Call for Code Developer Challenge, a prestigious worldwide competition sponsored by IBM that seeks to identify and promote creative digital approaches to disaster relief and preparedness. In this video, the Post-Disaster Rapid Response Retrofit (PDR3) team shares their innovative application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) code to assess structural criteria on damaged buildings following natural disasters.

Economic Progress and Disaster Resilience (Philippines) A 3-minute video animation of the potential for retrofitting and economic development in Pembo, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Closing the Protection Gap In 2018, RMS and their client volunteers visited Build Change communities in Nepal to deploy their skills and expertise to help solve practical community development challenges.

Building Change in Partnership Autodesk and Micro Documentaries joined forces to produce this two- and- a- half minute mini-documentary about Build Change and its mission to save lives in earthquakes and typhoons by building disaster-resistant buildings.

Report: Building Back Housing in Post-Disaster Situations: https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PBAAC534.pdf

Report: Build Back Better-Strategies for Societal Renewal in Haiti: https://buildchange-web.s3.amazonaws.com/resources/pdfs/INNOVATIONS-5-4_Build-Back-Better_Hausler.pdf

Report: Seismic Retrofit of Housing in Post-Disaster Situations: https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/pbaac537.pdf

Partnership with the World Bank for Global Resilient Housing: https://buildchange.org/build-change-helps-world-bank-to-launch-new-global-resilience-housing-program/


We the Future from TED, Skoll Foundation and United Nations Foundation

Build Change CEO Delivers Vision of Housing Resilience at TED Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 25 — Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO of Build Change, delivered an impassioned TED Talk to the organization’s “We the Future” conference in New York, joining thousands of other social entrepreneurs and activists in calling for a renewed commitment to building housing resilience and battling poverty in the developing world.

The marquis event at the TED World Theater in Manhattan celebrated the 73rd annual opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.

“It’s time we treat unsafe housing as the global epidemic that it is,” Hausler said. “It’s time to strengthen every building just like we would vaccinate every child in a public health emergency.”

Around the world, natural disasters destroy thousands of lives and erase decades of economic gains each year. These outcomes are undeniably devastating and completely preventable, Dr. Hausler said, and substandard housing is to blame. It’s estimated that one-third of the world will be living in insufficiently constructed buildings by 2030; Hausler hopes to cut those projections with a building and retrofitting revolution. She shared six straightforward principles to approach the problem of substandard housing: teach people how to build, use local architecture, give homeowners power, provide access to financing, prevent disasters and use technology to scale.
Read More

THE RESILIENT HOMES CHALLENGE

Engineers and Architects: Design a Safer Future for Millions with the Tools of Our Trade
“In the last decade, 5 million people have lost their homes and over 500,000 died in earthquakes and hurricanes…We often blame the earth, or climate change, but the truth is these disasters are largely man-made, and completely preventable. Most of the time earthquakes and hurricanes don’t kill people, badly built buildings do.”
Elizabeth Hausler, Build Change CEO

Competition breeds creativity! The XPRIZE Foundation’s famed “SpaceX” challenge underscores the power of competition to encourage innovation. Read More

Global Program for Resilient Housing Marks Important Shift Toward Prevention

World Bank Global Program for Resilient Housing launch

World Bank and Build Change Introduce New Global Effort to Prioritize Structural Integrity and Retrofit Substandard Housing in Disaster-Prone Regions

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 3 – Build Change and the World Bank on Wednesday launched a major new initiative aimed at improving the safety and structural integrity of millions of homes in the developing world, many of them built with haphazard materials and informal methods that leave them particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events, earthquakes and other disasters.

“It’s time that we look at resilient housing as a public health emergency,” said Build Change CEO Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, who was among those who addressed an audience of global housing experts gathered to celebrate the launch at World Bank headquarters. “This is easy, and it’s cost effective. We know why these buildings collapse in earthquakes, we know how to retrofit them.”
Read More

Build Change CEO Discusses Power of Government Partnerships During UN General Assembly Week

scaling pathways

Dr. Elizabeth Hausler Highlights Build Change’s Experience Working with Governments on Three Continents to Build Safe, Sustainable Housing

Build Change CEO Dr. Elizabeth Hausler joined an esteemed group of social entrepreneurs, policymakers and donors in a panel discussion to explore how best to harness the power of partnerships between nonprofits and government agencies.

The Sept. 26 event marked the launch of the new Scaling Pathways initiative, a partnership of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Mercy Corps and Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). Scaling Pathways published a new report, “Leveraging Government Partnerships for Scaled Impact,” as part of the event.
Read More

Democratizing Access to Technology & Automating Workflows in Colombia

Autodesk’s Latin America Marketing Program Manager, Juan M Martinez, Senior Data Scientist, Patty Svenson, and Forge Product Manager, Philippe Videau went to Colombia as part of a pro bono project to support Build Change, an Autodesk Foundation grantee, as they set out to retrofit homes in earthquake prone cities. Juan is originally from Bogota, but Patty and Philippe had never been, so why did they go? Read More

Going the Extra Mile, to Rebuild Nepal…

International Women in Engineering Day 2018

To live far away from home, in a different community and culture, and contribute towards a nation’s rebuilding after a disaster requires courage, character and determination for any young person. In Nepal’s traditionally patriarchal society, it can be especially challenging for young women to seize such opportunities. On top of this, success becomes even more challenging within an industry such as engineering which is still perceived in many countries as a “man’s profession.” After Nepal was struck by the disastrous earthquakes in 2015 however, many Nepali women engineers have come to the forefront of reconstruction, significantly helping homeowners in rebuilding their houses and strengthening their affected communities.Read More

The Happy Face of Retrofitting – Corina Sutter in Nepal

Corina Sutter is Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at RMS, and is based in London. She joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Corina’s account of her time in Nepal.

When you think about strengthening a building to make it more resilient to seismic events, does “retrofitting” come top of mind? And if you have heard of retrofitting, do you know why it is more cost-effective and in many instances more suitable than simply rebuilding? This awareness challenge is what Build Change faces in Nepal; with regards to retrofitting not everyone is aware or convinced — yet.

Thanks to RMS and their partnership with Build Change, I had the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days with their team in Nepal to learn more about their local initiatives. Prior to the trip, I thought I had a fairly good understanding of Build Change’s way of working and their impact on societies within which they operate, and was looking forward to better understanding what particular emphasis and challenges they see in the context of Nepal’s socioeconomic and political environment.Read More

Using Catastrophe Models to Promote Resilience

Tom is a Senior Product Manager in the Model Product Management team, focusing on the North Atlantic Hurricane Model suite of products. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Tom’s account of his time in Nepal.

2018 Trekkers in Kathmandu

2018 Trekkers in Kathmandu

Arriving in Kathmandu for the 2018 RMS Impact Trek, I was already aware of the many years that RMS has provided support for Build Change and its work in areas worst hit by catastrophic disasters. Our first day in the Build Change office was a crash course in their local objectives and challenges. Day Two saw us on a field trip to nearby Kirtipur to survey common building practices. It was a lot of information to process and it was not immediately clear to me what “impact” we could make during our short visit.

But it was later in the week — when, admittedly, the jet lag finally wore off — that I finally caught on.Read More

A Tour of Kirtipur – Callum Higgins in Nepal

Callum Higgins is senior product analyst at RMS, and is based in London. He joined fellow employees from RMS and RMS clients on our annual Impact Trek in Nepal during March this year. This is Callum’s account of his time in Nepal.Read More

Family Time & Off to the Philippines! – Update on Dr. James Mwangi, Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow

For the month of February, I was able to be at home with my family for a bit of a break between international locations. Luckily, while I was in the area, Elizabeth Hausler (Build Change’s Founder & CEO) was the keynote speaker at the California Polytechnic’s Architectural Engineering Department’s Structural Forum. It was great to see her speak about all of the projects I’ve seen in my travels, and reminded me of the incredible team I’ve been so lucky to meet and work alongside over the past year!

James in Manila with the Build Change team

James in Manila with the Build Change team

While at home, I was able to help the Build Change team remotely. I developed a “Retrofit Card” for Unreinforced Masonry/Confined Masonry one-story buildings in Colombia, and also met with the Indonesian engineers about out-of-plane designs of walls for the school retrofit they are working on. I also helped review the final construction documents for the school retrofit, which I am so excited will be completed soon! I saw the completion of the retrofits on the first 2 buildings in Indonesia while I was staying with the team there, and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the project come to fruition.

Before I took off for the Philippines in mid-March, I was able to get to know the team in Manila a bit. We had a great Skype call to get me prepared, and get me excited about going back to the field! My first few weeks in the Philippines have been full of a lot of getting up to speed and getting to know the team besides my former student at Cal Poly, Carl Fosholt, and I look forward to working on the exciting projects they have going on!

Press for Progress: Female Architects as Creative Drivers of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal

“Press for Progress” is our motto this month as we celebrate Women’s History Month. Women have always been a driving force behind human progress, and this month we celebrate their contributions to the world.

With their exceptional abilities to create, design, and transform, women are already at the forefront in the field of architecture. In Nepal, as elsewhere in the world, more and more women are entering this field. Moreover, they have been using their architectural skills to design earthquake-resistant houses after the devastating earthquakes of April 2015, and in the process have become creative leaders and drivers of safe reconstruction around the country.

So how are women architects contributing to reconstruction efforts in Nepal? What inspired and motivated them to be a part of the rebuilding process? What challenges have they faced and what are they learning on the way?

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, we bring to you inspiring stories from four young women architects who work for Build Change and are contributing to locally adaptable and affordable reconstruction.

Ayusha Joshi, Staff Architect
Ayusha Joshi

Ayusha Joshi

For Ayusha, architecture is about creating something permanent that has a positive impact on people. She chose to become an architect because she was always intrigued by how buildings could affect the way we live, our mood, and behavior. Through architecture, she strives to influence people’s lives for the better.

When the devastating earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, Ayusha realized how she could use her skills to influence people’s lives by helping her country build back safer. She joined Build Change and started working in the remote earthquake-affected communities of Nepal. “As city dwellers, we spend the majority of our time in an urban environment and do not get to visit the remote communities of Nepal as often as we would like. Since there is such a difference between rebuilding in urban and rural environments, we need to develop a deeper understanding of rural communities and their rebuilding processes. This was the reason why I was quite excited when I got an opportunity to be a part of sustainable rural housing reconstruction process,” she says. Being an architect and working in a community is quite a different strategy. “It is very different from working with commercial clients in urban areas. We need to consider the homeowners’ needs and requirements, the local architecture and construction techniques, and the impact of the project on the community,” she says. Initially, it was quite challenging for Ayusha and other female architects and engineers in the field to earn the trust of local community members. While working in the rural community of Kaule of Nuwakot district, homeowners only talked to the male architects and engineers, as they believed that men know best. Why would they waste their time talking to women? Over time, this perception has changed. Now, more and more homeowners seek technical assistance from the female technical staff. This is all thanks to Ayusha and other female technical staff in the field for their dedicated efforts!

Ayusha’s pride in contributing to the safe reconstruction of rural Nepal is obvious. “The risks that I have taken have all been worth it.” She encourages other female architects to “take up the challenges that help us grow as professionals because architecture has many facets, and you never know what you will end up working on!”

Kriti Rajkarnikar, Staff Architect
Kriti Rajkarnikar

Kriti Rajkarnikar

Kriti always wanted to build her career in architecture, a field of both art and technology, where one’s art is materialized at real scale. It was during her undergraduate studies when she realized that architecture could touch people’s lives for better, which has turned into her biggest motivation. When the disastrous earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, Kriti was studying for her Master’s degree in Infrastructure Planning in Germany. In the immediate aftermath, she considered how she could use her skills and experience to contribute to the reconstruction efforts of Nepal. She returned to Nepal after finishing her studies and joined Build Change.

Kriti works within the technical team to design earthquake-resistant houses in rural areas, including both new construction and retrofits. She helped to establish the very first Technical Support Center (TSC) in Sindhupalchok district where she provided technical assistance and house design support to homeowners. “My work has given me a deeper insight into the local context of Nepal, as well as an opportunity to create social impact through architecture.” Outside of Kriti’s work for Build Change, she is also actively helping to save heritage architecture in Dhulikhel through research and documentation.

When asked about the challenges that women architects have to face, she says “it can be challenging at times for women to create their own identity in the construction industry.” But she believes that by showing sensitivity and perseverance, women will be able to prove that they can be leaders in the field of architecture. By expanding knowledge and pushing the boundaries of architecture, they can overcome any challenges.

Mansi Karna, Architect
Mansi Karna

Mansi Karna

“I tended to perceive architecture as a tool for the creation of a magical abode. To be an architect. to me, was to be a magician. The fantasy of a Utopian city, and the desire to create and inhabit one, became a driving force in my life and played an important part in my decision to go to architecture school,” says Mansi. It was not until she started working in the field of reconstruction however that she came to realize the huge gap between what is taught in colleges and what exists in reality. “Despite the college curriculum promoting architecture as a social art and luxury, I came to realize it was less about luxury and more about social need. After witnessing the massive destruction caused by poor housing quality during the earthquake, the need for safer housing became obvious.”

Mansi was the first architect at Build Change’s Nepal office, and she remembers how challenging it was for a single person to produce all drawings during the initial phase of reconstruction. However, she has been able to overcome these challenges with her driving passion for architecture and a supportive working environment. She says, “The best part of working here is the way Build Change encourages women architects, engineers, and other technical staff to contribute to decision-making discussions and provides an opportunity for us to become better at our job through continual professional development. Our work is valued equally as our male counterparts. So from where I stand, I can say that the future of women architects and engineers definitely appears to be bright. We just need to keep up our motivation and continue striving for more.”

Salina Pradhan, Staff Architect

Salina Pradhan

“I chose to become an architect because I have always been attracted to homes, art, and interior design,” says Salina.  Previously Salina had been working as a commercial architect designing houses for wealthy people in Kathmandu. “Now I have become a social architect, designing houses to address the needs and cost considerations of the rural communities,” she says.

Salina had always wanted to work in the field of rural housing and development, and she is glad that she is getting an opportunity to use her knowledge and skills to contribute to the reconstruction process in Nepal.

Regarding the challenges that women architects face, she says, “Although there are many female architecture students [in Nepal], when it comes to developing their careers they are constrained by their family and social responsibilities. In that sense, women architects are still relatively oppressed and it is difficult for them to take leadership roles within the field of architecture.” Salina believes that in order for women architects to excel professionally, they should always believe in their potential and should rise above social norms that constrain them to explore the limitless opportunities that architecture provides.

 

 

To Ayusha, Kriti, Mansi, Salina, and everyone supporting the national rebuilding- a big THANK YOU for your contribution and inspiration in driving the reconstruction process and for setting an example for the next generation in Nepal and around the world!