Social Justice Winner 2010
Soe Ker Tie Hias (The Butterfly Houses)
The Butterfly House was borne out of a social conscious and the will to create beautiful and interesting architecture that provides social benefit to those who can not provide for themselves in the usual way.
The six buildings are located in Thailand near the Burmese border, where local villagers called them “Soe Ker Tie Hias”, meaning “Butterfly House” in the local language, after their butterfly like appearance. The houses recreate an environment similar to normal village life for refugee orphans.
Children who have lost their families and have had the worst imaginable start in life are provided with their own private living space, a home and a neighbourhood where they can play with each other, as well as a stronger sense of personal identity.
The Norwegian non-profit organisation behind the project TYIN tegnestue, TYIN meaning “to seek refuge”, is run by Yashar Hanstad and Andreas G. Gjertsen. A team of architects and students are also constantly involved.
As students of Architecture at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), the team were frustrated by the insignificant social impact made by their high budget local building projects.
As the university had no appropriate programme in place, Yashar and Andreas developed an online profile at http://www.tyintegnestue.no to raise funding for international projects where they could take what they had learned and collaborate with locals to combat global social injustice through architecture, one region at a time.
They left for Thailand’s Jungle in August 2008, where they lived and learned from locals for four months in a small refugee village. TYIN tegnestue knew the shape and size of the orphanage they wanted to build but it was only by establishing a framework for the mutual exchange of knowledge with locals and by merging modern architecture with traditional regional techniques that the Butterfly House took shape.
Andreas said, “We need individuals and organisations, from students to field experts, to believe creating a better world is possible. We hope to inspire others to do the same and that our involvement with The Earth Awards, who share our dream of working together in combating social injustice, will enhance the professional credibility of the organisation among both funders and doers.
“We believe all projects, no mater how expensive, need to have the added value of beauty and knowledge. As well as building structures to benefit socially deprived economies, we must be visible in more affluent regions and illustrate how beauty can be available to all.”
Following TYIN tegnestue’s success NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) turned to its alumnae students, Yashar and Andreas, to help them implement a programme that will allow its students to conduct similar projects.
TYIN tegnestue emulate the very principles behind The Earth Awards. They have triggered a ripple effect of helping others to help themselves and inspiring those that can to help enable those who can’t to create a better future for all.