Gabriel Arboleda

Ph.D. in Architecture - University of California, Berkeley, 2012
M.S. in Architecture Studies - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2005
Arquitecto - Universidad del Valle, Colombia, 1998


Gabriel Arboleda is a practicing architect and architectural researcher, with experience in the areas of alternative technologies and sustainable design, participatory design and planning, rural housing, and "culturally appropriate" building.

Gabriel has worked at both sides of the building and development practice spectrum, from the NGO/grassroots to the international development organizations. He is currently conducting the planning and implementation process of an indigenous housing program for Guyanese hinterland Amerindian communities. As part of this program, the beneficiary communities design and build their own houses, thus capitalizing on their traditional building knowledge and procuring for themselves a type of housing that although modern it is adapted to their specific necessities. This one-million dollar pilot program is executed by the Guyana Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, with funding from the IADB.

In the past, and through his Colombia-based NGO Fundación Arcadia Gabriel has worked on similar building projects that use local knowledge for the communities' own benefit. He has used this approach while working with traditional and rural communities of the Ecuadorian coast and Amazonian lowlands, as well as the Colombian Pacific coast. The resulting alternative building projects include natural ventilation systems, bamboo building, and an award-winning waterless toilet.

Gabriel is also a professional associate of SIGUS, MIT's Special Interest Group in Urban Settlement. With SIGUS he has worked on urban analysis, building, and participatory urban design in East Asia, the United States and Central America. In 2009 he participated in a study of organic settlement patterns on pre-existing agricultural fields in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2005 he participated in the preliminary planning process for the development of the Lift House, a hurricane resistant structure that combines affordability with sturdiness and ease of construction, and that was implemented as a post-disaster approach in Houma, Louisiana. In 2004 he co-facilitated a participatory project to design and build a new neighborhood with and for a displaced community in San Cayetano Istepeque, El Salvador.

Gabriel is currently Assistant Professor of Environmental Design at Hampshire and Amherst College, joint Architectural Studies Program. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley (2012), with a major in Environmental Design in Developing Countries. His dissertation research (now a book draft) was on ethnoengineering, a culturally appropriate building methodology implemented by the Ecuadorian government in areas of indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian population. Gabriel also holds a Master of Science in Architectural Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2005). His research at MIT focused on low-income housing and traditional peoples, and involved working closely with anthropology faculty at Harvard University. He also has a professional degree in Architecture from the Universidad del Valle in Colombia (1998).





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