It Takes a Village to Build a Village

It Takes a Village to Build a Village
Students Cynthy Harris, Yazmin Lozano, Garrett Van Leeuwen, Matty West, Serge Mayer and Brad Fowers inside the TJ House.
Matty West, a Regenerative Studies grad student, peers through a window in the TJ House. Students used an inexpensive glass plate from Ikea to seal the window.
The TJ House is located at the Lyle Center.

A home can be insulated with recycled plastic bottles, PVC pipe and a green roof. It may not be conventional. But a group of professors and an assemblage of students have found that the inexpensive design could be the solution to bolster the quality of life in impoverished communities in Mexico.

For more than two years, College of Environmental Design professors Pablo La Roche, Irma Ramirez and Kyle Brown and numerous students have been developing a prototype home on the grounds of the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies. Known as the TJ House, the structure employs a low-cost sustainable design that can be built using readily available materials in the poorest neighborhoods of Tijuana.  

This collaborative project recently garnered the notable Prize for the Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. With this honor came a $25,000 prize to Cal Poly Pomona's Architecture department.

“By designing and building this prototype our students have learned that sustainable design strategies don't have to cost a lot of money. Minimizing the use of non-renewable resources actually saves money much of the time,” says Brown, director of the Lyle Center, which along with the National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance has provided much of the project's funding.

It is the hope that through a pre-existing partnership with Corazon, a non-profit organization that addresses housing needs in Mexico, that Cal Poly Pomona students will help build homes like this in ongoing revitalization projects in Tijuana.