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Another project we completed with our first 2012 interns was a 3-family “slum.”  This is meant to represent how people live on the outskirts of large cities in developing countries throughout the world.  We’ll probably change the country this is supposed to represent often to reflect that this type of dwelling if found throughout  Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America.

To complete this project we utilized mostly recycled and reclaimed lumber, pallets, tires, cardboard, and roofing plastic and metal – although we did have to buy some more roofing material to complete the structure.

One difference between our construction techniques and “real world” construction techniques can be highlighted with the slum dwellings.  I’ve never seen post foundations set 30″ into the ground in a real slum, for example.  I’ve never seen rafters bolted onto posts.  Everything is far more slapped together.  However, we have to balance an authentic look and feel with actual and honest-to-goodness safety.  We simply can’t build slums like they are built in real life because they would eventually fall down and hurt someone.  We can’t have that.

So we took great pains to make the slums – as well as other Lifestyles Lane structures – be structurally sound but visually crummy.  We installed the rafters and cross-beams at odd angles.  We built them on a non-level site.  We used pressure-treated framework and then hid it underneath pallets, tires, plastic, cardboard, pegboard, sheet tin, and all sorts of other junk.

The resulting structure hopefully will give Lifestyles Lane participants the feeling of living in a slum but without the safety risks.

Our interns were great!  Riley Francis, Sam Abney, Rachel Seidner, Allison Vigil, and Jacob Klein slapped this thing together in 4 days!  Days 1 and 2 were digging post holes, installing corner posts, and attaching bracing and framework.  Days 3 and 4 were attaching the roof and filling in the walls (along with a fair amount of graffiting – that structure has been tagged up!).  The final touch will be hanging a ubiquitous blue plastic tarp up to shelter the cooking area from rain.


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