Laurin Baumgardt, Rice Anthropology Graduate Student, has been awarded an NSF DDRIG Award for his research on “Innovating Housing Design in Response to Ecological Hazards.”
His dissertation project will investigate how resident communities, working with professional planners and non-governmental design experts, develop novel infrastructural visions and capacities for new public housing. Exploring urban design initiatives that involve under-served neighborhoods in the creation of future housing designs and policy strategies, it analyzes their efficacy in responding to inequalities as well as ecological disruptions (such as fires, flooding and droughts). The project will assess and interpret the values, visions, and potential advantages of housing infrastructure that is incrementally built and upgraded through citizen’s participation in the design, building, and maintenance over time. The research results will address concerns regarding how people cope with and react to the rise of housing demands and new infrastructure requirements in an era of ecological hazards, scarce urban land, and continuous socio-spatial segregations.
The award funding will support twelve months of extended ethnographic research. Laurin will use the support to continue his field research in Cape Town, South Africa, which is one of the most unequal and segregated cities in the world, while it is also among the most innovative global cities.