Native Habitat was established in Mauritius in 2004 and aims to help particularly disadvantaged groups and communities in general develop a built environment appropriate to their culture and their needs.
Native Habitat’s philosophy is based on 2 principles : firstly to address the needs of a low income community in order to eradicate poverty through improved social housing, and secondly to adopt a participatory approach that includes not only the analysis of the needs of those affected, but also their contribution in the design of their future habitat. In this perspective, housing is the final result and becomes almost secondary. Through a sociological approach process, the consultant will evaluate the structure of families, their lifestyles, neighborhood relationships, the needs of cohabitation, adapting the urban and architectural design to this evaluation. The identity of the people is preserved: the goal is to provide a solution, modeled on the needs. It is considered as a social project before an urban project by enabling the inhabitants to become actors in the development of their future environment.
The project is developed in collaboration with the beneficiaries in a real “negotiation”, understanding the needs and answering them justely allows a trustworthy relationship to be built between the different actors. Working on the layout of the houses with the inhabitants allows them to make their own choices and to fully understand the project – which may include an element of self-construction or self-finish – in its reasoning, its limitations, its consequences. Crucially, this development phase should conclude with a majority and not unanimous acceptance of the project. In view of what has been implemented so far in favor of social housing and the fight against poverty in Mauritius, so it is an innovative approach.
Moreover, unlike an architect following a traditional approach, the consultant/architect will act as an architect and sociologist, playing the role of a coordinator, surrounding himself with policy makers, social workers, NGOs working in the field and the beneficiaries.