The Department of Architecture at the University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz brings together top specialists from the fields of solar architecture, building ecology, modern wood and clay construction as well as self- and project management.
In 2004 the Department of Architecture planned and built a home for handicapped children in South Africa. BASEhabitat arose as a result of the enthusiasm and commitment of the students who had been involved in building this home. BASEhabitat minimises the contradictions between basic needs and aesthetics, ecology and economics, prosperity and poverty, utility and design.
BASEhabitat therefore builds houses that need no external energy source for their air-conditioning, using locally available resources instead of destroying their surroundings, enriching the environment and offering people new challenges and new employment. Such know-how is particularly productive in areas with limited access to public infrastructure where the means for adequate heating or cooling are lacking.
BASEhabitat realises projects in Africa, Asien and Latin America.
In all projects BASEhabitat emphasises the use of local and natural construction materials. This ensures greater self-sufficiency for those concerned and strengthens the local economy. Traditional designs and techniques for building with these materials are thus stimulated, strengthened and further developed.
BASEhabitat regards beauty as a basic human right, as essential for us as food. Beauty costs nothing more than intelligence and spirit, mindfulness and dedication. This striving towards beauty differentiates BASEhabitat from many other development projects: beauty is the aspect that gives the projects dignity and anchors the work in various cultural areas and with different people.
BASEhabitat projects are always developed in sensitive social environments and cannot therefore succeed without the acceptance and sympathy of the local population. As the houses are also intended as prototypes to be copied, this too presupposes their careful embedding in the community.
BASEhabitat above all achieves this by involving as many people as possible in the building process. 1. The people who will live in the buildings help design them according to their wishes. 2. Local craftsman, who can contribute valuable abilities and pass on acquired knowledge. 3. Men and Women from the neighbourhood and local enterprises and merchants.
In order to spread such knowledge, BASEhabitat organises summer schools and workshops. For example in 2014, 100 people from 34 countries participated in the summer school.
The Karl Zünd Foundation finances the cost of a local project manager for several years, thus securing the continuity of the BASEhabitat work.