RootStudio emphasizes community participation and engagement throughout the design process. The studio has no predefined ‘style,’ instead preferring materials and techniques based on the vernacular of the area in which they are working. Projects typically employ ‘natural’ building systems, such as rainwater collection, passive ventilation, and more. Ultimately, the team aims to create strategies and utilize materials that are replicable on other projects in the community.
In 2015, after the earthquake in Nepal, RootStudio was invited to design and build a model house. Using local, accessible materials, they built two prototype houses out of bamboo and partitions, via a collaboration between locals and volunteers that came to the region. The prototypes respond to the need for quickly-built housing with the goal of providing independence and immediate shelter, while simultaneously introducing basic building techniques.
As a part of the process, members of the community learn skills they need to reproduce the project themselves. The bamboo structure can be adapted, enlarged, or even be built on a larger scale due to the introduction of the basic bamboo connections.
More recently, from September 2018 to April 2019, RootStudio and architect Paz Braga worked on the design of an academy to be used by a non-profit organization, Girl Move, which empowers women in vulnerable contexts. Previously, the organization, which delivers 3 main programs to approximately 1,130 women and girls yearly, had been working between two buildings in Nampula, Mozambique without all requirements necessary to best help their clients. The design had to allow enough room for the team at Girl Move to operate in one place. Beyond functionality, RootStudio wanted the building to inspire others, utilizing innovation and sustainability while valuing local resources and knowledge.
Once completed, the project had a great impact on the community, the University, and the region as a whole. 85% of the building was made with brick, produced locally using traditional techniques. Students and community members were invited to participate in the building process, allowing knowledge to be shared. Additionally, the use of the earth in the construction granted dignity to a material normally considered to be “poor material.”
While RootStudio is based in Mexico, the team have now worked all over the world, including in locations such as Nepal, Mozambique, India, Azores, and Morocco.