LifeArk

ORGANIZATION NAME: GDS Innovation Lab

LOCATION: Pasadena, California, USA

SUMMARY: LifeArk is a pre-fabricated, modular building system that can create self-sustaining communities on water and land. It is a rapidly deployable response that will mobilize economic development and regeneration for millions of slum dwellers and displaced peoples. The flexibility of the system allows it to fit to each community's needs.

PROBLEM SPACE: "Today there are over 1 billion people dwelling in slums and over 65.3 million people forcibly displaced from their homes. With climate change and the rise of both armed conflict and natural disasters, the number of individuals living in vulnerable conditions is rapidly increasing. Countless families live without access to clean water, power, waste management, sanitation and safe, dignified homes. Poorly-constructed homes with little to no infrastructure lock entire communities into a cycle of poverty generation after generation. So much energy and time is used to responding to the volatile environment around them that families have very little to invest in other areas like economic development, education, etc. Capacity-building initiatives have little lasting impact if these basic needs are not addressed; however, current methods of developmental aid are unable to respond to such a rapidly growing challenge. Rather than implementing temporary solutions, our response to the challenge of slum dwellers and displaced peoples should be a systemic intervention that revitalizes the entire community for the long-term. LifeArk is designed to be a tool that will support the community comprehensively, enabling sustainable transformation.

As the growing number of people living in poverty is heavily concentrated in developing nations, governments are unable to properly address this rising challenge. Without support, more and more families are living informally in extremely vulnerable, haphazardly-constructed homes or tents; unsafe homes create an enormous obstacle for growth. The sheer speed of growth puts a strain on resources that many of these governments cannot handle, resulting in the increasing rise of urban slums. The refugee crisis follows a similar trend; camps designed to temporarily shelter refugees are housing families for upwards of 30 years. Without proper support, these refugee communities scrape by in very meager conditions, unable to thrive. Rather than being integrated into society, slum dwellers and refugees are usually marginalized and ignored. The current response to these challenges only works to put a band-aid on the issue and ultimately cripples the young generation from becoming contributing members of society. The global urban phenomenon of informal settlements and the resulting perpetual poverty of millions of people is an urgent challenge in need of an innovative, sustainable and socially-powered solution."

SOLUTION: "The LifeArk module is a pre-fabricated, self-sustainable, water and land-based modular building system designed to comprehensively respond to the rapidly growing number of persons living in extremely vulnerable conditions. It is fitted to standard shipping containers for efficient transportation and can be rapidly assembled. LifeArk modules can be easily configured to infinite variations, catering to the needs of the end-user in a local, culturally appropriate context. LifeArk is designed to secure basic necessities, ensure stability and create space for families to grow.

Beyond secure, sustainable housing, LifeArk is a community-building tool for future development and regeneration. Each module can meet multiple needs across a wide spectrum, providing an innovative solution that will empower entire communities to thrive. Whether it be a community center, health clinic, school, hydroponic farm or dwelling unit LifeArk can become the spaces most beneficial to a community. The built-in amenities of each module will allow every space contribute to the community's overall infrastructure, providing off-grid systems for clean water, energy and waste management.

We believe LifeArk will shift the paradigm of community-building in marginalized areas. It is a comprehensive platform for capacity-building, as each effort will also simultaneously build the infrastructures most needed in these communities."

CONTACT: Charles Wee, [email protected]

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