Monday, October 15, 2007

Developing a House as a Home

It’s a process familiar to any developer. How much is too much and what is too little?

When the people you are building for come from nothing, anything solid is better. But does that mean that you build for little as possible? Especially when the more cheaply you build, the more people you can house with the same amount of money? That, of course, is not the goal.

To raise children in a quality environment is the goal, and that can’t be done with just a floor and a roof. But how much quality is too much?

How many kids should we squeeze into a house? Should each room (with four kids in it) have its own bathroom so they can have some privacy?

Should they have a kitchen to learn to cook, or just cupboards and a sink since meals will always be available from the General Kitchen?

How much more upfront cost is ok if we’re providing natural daylight and ventilation?

How big of a common/living room space is appropriate for 16 kids to play and study? Or should their study areas be in their room, more quiet, but more difficult for the Tios and Tias (caregivers) to supervise?

How do you place bars over windows inexpensively without it appearing prisonlike?

These questions and more are the ones we are currently encountering and trying to answer. The group involved is big, it includes Günther and I, the architect, directors, tios, tias, NPH International, NPH Family Services and others. And we all have our own opinions about how raising children, architecture and the culture of NPH should interact.

But things are moving forward! We’ll get through it as thoroughly and efficiently as we can with Nicaraguan schedules, power outages and floods in the meantime.

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