When a tsunami struck the island of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, one of the areas that suffered the most devastation was Banda Aceh. The world rallied around these hard-hit regions, offering numerous forms of aid.
Since housing was an immediate need, Britco Construction’s modular approach was seen as a viable solution to help rebuild the communities affected by the tsunami and offer hope to the thousands of children left homeless. We partnered with Save The Children USA, based in Westport, Connecticut, to help keep the international project moving forward and to ensure the homes would be delivered in a timely manner to those most in need.
Throughout the entire process, the Britco Construction team had a number of challenges. Since no local building code was available for reference, we felt it would be best if we were to build using the international building code. On-site assembly wasn’t possible due to limited capacity, which further added to our logistical challenges. The team also knew that there were cultural differences to be aware of and that a way of life on the other side of the world would be a determining factor during the build process.
This was perhaps one of the most meaningful projects we’ve ever worked and it’s one that has had a lasting impact on many Britco staff.
The team designed and built 455 units for assembly in Indonesia, with each home being about 450 square feet. Inside each home – made with a traditional Indonesian look – there are four rooms and a covered, outdoor deck. The homes allow for residents to live in one area and then sleep in another. The steep roof was designed to withstand heavy rain and to dissipate heat on the inside. Because each home was built to be on stilts, this also allows for animals to live underneath. They were treated to be termite-resistant and seismically designed to be able to withstand a major earthquake.
In order to get as many of the units built as quickly as we could, we rented a building in nearby Hope, effectively expanding our existing plant space. Each home was shipped packaged as a pre-cut, panelized unit and designed so that locally-trained workers could easily assemble them on-site. University of British Columbia students put the training program together for these workers, who were trained and supervised by members of BCIT’s School of Construction and Environment program.
Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 27 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 110 countries.