Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
This paper argued that, in parallel to financial feasibility, the esthetics play a powerful role in swaying the donation and investments away from low-cost housing projects in the development context. The paper analyzes the development industry’s structure and its players and asks how architects could ally with the End Users by understanding their self-building practices. The architect in the global development industry works with at least five clients. They are the Funders (often from the global North), the Local Government (often in the global South), the Architectural Disciplines in the funder nations, the Local Building Sector, and the End Users. Our survey of 370 self-build homes in Rwanda attests that not all actors represent their values equally, and the End Users, the actor with little resource and leverage, may be rendered silent in this process although they have the most at stake. While the global development industry tries to eradicate self-building activities, the End Users continue to claim the built environment by tapping into their social capital, and share labor, materials, and knowledge. Their architecture simultaneously protests and participates in development.