The BaSiC Initiative is a collaboration of faculty and students from Portland State University and University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture. We support community partnerships beginning two decades ago in housing solutions for Native Americans, housing and community services for migrant farm workers, and schools and health clinics in central Mexico. Each program draws upon the unique relationship of communities to their environment, finding solutions that embrace appropriate technologies while reinforcing local values to spur self-initiated development.

The BaSiC initiative offers students a variety of design/build opportunities. The Mexico Program occurs during the winter quarter in various squatter settlements in Morelos. The Strawbale Program in Montana occurs during the summer quarter, building on various American Indian Reservations. The Rural Studio also occurs during the summer quarter, exploring needed housing options in areas such as Eastern Washington and southern Mississippi. Every few years, the Global Studio replaces the Mexico Program, ranging in regions of the globe from Africa to Cuba to India.

In the past two decades, the program has successfully designed and built over 95 projects ranging from elementary schools, to clinics, children’s libraries, laundry facilities, houses, literacy centers, and urban gardens, to infrastructure projects such as wells, cisterns, waste treatment facilities, and solar fields. Each program has in its own way made a significant contribution to its host community not only by providing new possibilities and ways of living more economically and ecologically, but also through the experience and capacity gained through the design/build process by both community members and students.