Three years after Hurricane María and nine months after the earthquake that affected the island, thousands of people do not have a safe home. However, the architect Carla Gautier has been concerned with offering Puerto Ricans a safe structure in which to live.
With an atypical construction, Gautier has been revolutionizing the market by building houses with containers. This idea arose after the young architect worked with FEMA after the passage of Hurricane María and saw the great need that existed on the Island to have residences that would withstand the force of a hurricane or other natural disaster.
Gautier explained to THE SPOKESMAN He used the container as his main work tool for several reasons. “The container is one of the strongest boxes in the world. It is designed to withstand tornadoes, saltpeter, spending a month in the water, among other things, ”Gautier said.
In addition, he argued that many times the companies of the maritime industry dispose of containers in landfills when they pass their 25-year warranty. For this practice there are more than 11 million containers throughout the Americas.
“The container gives us a way to build in a resilient way, where we are going to be safe, but at the same time it is a way where we are building and we are not impacting the environment any more,” Gautier said.
The project of this Puerto Rican architect was recognized by the international news network CNN, in the special series ‘Champions for Change’ in which people who challenge the ‘status quo’ are highlighted to improve the lives of others; something that Carla is achieving in the municipalities most affected by both María and the earthquakes.
The proposal of the architecture firm that Gutier founded, KONTI Design, is to sell people a completely eco-friendly house. That is to say, they help clients in the installation of renewable energy, rainwater collection systems, and some bio planters, which Gautier explained are a replacement for a septic well and much more eco-friendly. “The idea and our mission is to achieve houses that behave as an independent body,” he said.
In addition to contributing to the environment, container houses are more cost-effective for island residents. The average income of Puerto Ricans is $ 20,000 and building a house in cement usually costs $ 100,000. Guatier assured THE SPOKESMAN that building a house on a wagon would cost 20% less than a cement house.
The project is one of many that have been developed on the Island to promote a country that protects the environment and its natural resources. Carla understands that Puerto Ricans have become more aware of environmental issues since María’s passage and she believes that one of the reasons is having been without electricity for a long time.
“I believe that people are beginning to educate themselves a little more, they are beginning to see the value of things and the value of building more, knowing that you are doing it because eventually when the next Maria arrives you will be fine,” he said.
Help rebuild business affected by earthquakes
One of the most important projects for Carla and KONTI Design at this time is the construction of the Radio Yaucana station, whose structure was affected by the earthquakes that hit the country at the beginning of the year.
The couple who run this social media business lost their home and business after the earthquakes.
For this project, which is working with the organization Causa Local seeks donations to be able to finish it. Ana María Cintrón, representative of Causa Local, explained that people or companies that are interested in donating to finish this project can contact [email protected].
“Radio Yaucana is the first business that we were able to help move forward, but we do not want it to be the last and we are looking to raise more capital to help all these entrepreneurs who are trying to make a difference in Puerto Rico,” explained Gautier .
The company also contributed one of its designs for a non-profit organization to use as a base center to distribute medicines and offer medical services in the southwest of the island.
Fight against machismo in architecture
With her experience and knowledge, Carla has earned the respect of her peers in architecture and the world of construction. However, it recognizes that there is still a long way to go before women are not discriminated against in this field.
“Many times when I am going to pay something they tell me: ‘we have to wait for your boss to arrive to process the payment’ and I say: look, I’m the boss,” Gautier said.
Still, the architect assured that she does not take these comments personally.
Likewise, she indicated that since she expressed her interest in being an architect, the young woman had the support of her family.
In fact, Carla is the third architect in her family since her father and grandfather are architects. “My family, thank God they have been a huge support. I believe that without them I would not have been able to do this, ”he said.
His father’s and grandfather’s firms collaborate closely with the projects of KONTI Design, a company that seeks to provide design solutions for residential and commercial projects. Their goal is to provide a fast, personalized and sustainable solution for all their clients.