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"Teo, Heather, and Fernando are traveling to Ecuador to finish a design on a chocolate factory for Kallari, thanks to a grant from Architecture for Humanity and the support of RATIO and RAYae."

MAKING AN IMPACT - Architecture for humanity Indianapolis Chapter Tuesday, June 2, 2009 |

This is the most recent picture taken during the AFH Indianapolis Chapter monthly meeting
( May venue sponsor - Ratio Architects )

- More stories about 'Designing for Humanity' to follow -
-Chunsheh Teo -

Holy Sprouts, Batman! 'OR' Greening it up at the IBPF Tuesday, May 26, 2009 |

On the outskirts of Urbana, Illinois sprouts are growing happily each day in a lovely ‘factory’ built into the side of hill. It’s hard to call it a factory…maybe more like an indoor farm…for baby plants…indoor baby plant farm (IBPF), yes that will do. Driving out west with a group of people from my church to Tiny Greens Organic Farm, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was going for a couple of reasons – the bigger one perhaps being that there is a yoga ashram located on the same property as the sprout factory – but little did I know that the factory would actually make the trip for me!

We were greeted as we arrived by the CEO/General Manager Bill Bagby, who was very excited to show us around his IBPF. The building uses a combination of passive solar design elements, radiant heating and cooling, super-insulation, and thermal storage. Bill worked closely with his mechanical engineers, and I feel like by the end of the process, he could design another one of these buildings without their help! The sprouts must be kept at temperatures between 68-71 degrees, and amazingly Bill pointed out that he requires no additional heating or cooling in the Spring and Fall due to the fantastic design work done on the building. The IBPF also recycles all of its water, a fairly amazing feat considering the amount of water that is needed to process the seeds into sprouts. At the farm’s previous home, Bill said that they were paying around $2000 a month in water bills! Now compare that to your next bill and think about how much water they go through. In trying to reduce their carbon footprint on the earth even more, the IBPF converted their main delivery vehicle to run on French Fry Fuel!

What a wonderful learning opportunity for so many…simple ‘green’ design elements that can be incorporated into so many projects not just here in our well-developed country, but in those where it could impact the lives of so many others. The water system alone could do wonders for so many communities.

Bill loves talking about his IBPF, and I know would love to have you come out! To learn a little more about the farm and set up a time to visit it, check out the website at . If you want to try some of his sprouts, look for the Tiny Greens label at your grocery store!

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IUPUI Making an Impact Friday, May 15, 2009 |

Little did I know that the University with that crazy acronym (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) has a growing organization that is doing some great work internationally and right here in the USofA. Global Design Studio presented some of their work last night at the AFH-Indy Chapter meeting to my (and I hope everyone else's) delight. GDS is a student run/faculty advised organization that has been setting up distance learning trips for students and others for design projects in the built environment. Recently, many of these projects have been humanitarian-based and the result of natural disasters. They showed us projects in Thailand, New Orleans, Hawaii (that must be a rough trip, and I will keep you posted on this one), and most exciting - Ecuador! These Ecuador projects just keep coming! Its exciting to see a young organizationg doing so much.

In other news, the press section of the US Embassy in Quito contacted me via email today to see if they could set up an interview with the WT (Winner Team) the next time we come to town! Teo started to fret and worried that he was in trouble for taking so much chocolate out of the country... but the interview would be about collaboration between Ecuador and!

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DESIGN UPDATES Monday, May 4, 2009 |

More Design Updates

( To read more about the design process, please view postings below )

- Chunsheh Teo -
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Developing Nations License License.

The Geo-tourism Lodge for Kallari a.k.a 'The Pod-Lodge' Wednesday, April 29, 2009 |

Learning from the trip
The trip to Ecuador is very educational and humbling for a designer like myself travelling for the first time in the South American region. Learning about the Culture, Life and the whole cacao production process starting from land selection, controlling the plant genetic attributes, the distribution of plants to the community, planting, nurturing, harvesting to the production of the actual chocolate bars intrigued me throughout the trip. These experiences definitely seeped into my mind when looking into the redesign effort at that time for the chocolate factory on the newly purchased site. Although the site submitted for the competition has now changed to a different location, interestingly, the original design for the factory / visitor center fits nicely onto the new site without needing any major reconfigurations.
As I’m moving into the design mode of the Geo-tourism lodge for Kallari, designing the 'story' for the lodges is the most interesting phase to me as a designer as it allows me to enhance the concept of the “Canopy’ created for the Factory / visitor center, while incorporating the essence of the cacao plant to narrate the story of the Kallari community.

The Addition - Beyond the Challenge
The addition of the lodges came about when we were in Ecuador as the community leaders informed us that the site were selected because of its strategic location as Kallari is currently working with the local government on a masterplan to create a ‘Cacao route’. Similar to the famous Andean route for Cañari-Inca culture in Ecuador, the ‘Cacao route’ will provide facilities along the route for visitors / tourist to immerse into the ‘ultimate Cacao experience’ of Ecuador. With this, came the ideas of the addition in providing Eco-lodges on the site. It might be a little confusing as I have mentioned Geotourism lodges previously but I think it is more appropriate to call it the Geotourism lodges than Eco-lodges due to several reasons mentioned below.


Geotourism is a new concept in redefining Sustainable tourism and Eco-tourism. National Geographic’s defines Geotourism as ‘tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents’.

The last point mentioning the well-being of its residents, to me, played a crucial role in the design for the lodges as it not only benefits the visitors, but also the local culture and its residents, in this case the Kallari organization and the Kichwa community.

Geotourism is synergetic, stresses on community involvement, providing the platform to inform both the visitors and enhancing the unique heritage of the local residents, benefitting the local residents economically, supports the integrity and uniqueness of the place and last but not least, providing an unique and authentic experience to the visitors while preserving its geological attributes.

Inspiration in designing the Geotourism lodges aka the
‘ Pod-lodge’ for Kallari
It has been an interesting journey to recap a few months back since the trip and looking back at sketches and thoughts made during November 2008.
The most interesting sketch was done while resting at a cafe after an exhausting but fruitful site visit with the community leaders.
Iinspired by cumulative experiences, I began to sketched a bunch of cross-sections of the cacao plant from the tree itself to the branch, leaf, flower, outer pod shell, inner pod shell, the pulp and seeds. But what intrigued me most at that time was how the seeds are connected by the central

strand and vice-versa how the strand holds the seeds together. This became the primary inspiration to the organizational diagram providing the connection of the new chocolate factory / visitor center to the pod-lodges on the cascading and sloped terrain of the site. After a few more ‘shell’ studies of the cacao pod, both the outer and inner shell, the section was then transformed into the design concept of the pod-lodges. It became the metaphor on the basis of design on how the structure and the unit modules came together. It is also crucial on how the pod-lodges integrate and placed benignly onto the existing landscape and environment, avoiding major disruption to the eco-system already existed. This translated into the lifting of the lodges on stilts that conforms to the challenging slopped terrain and minimizing the built footprint. The design of the Pod-lodge itself plays a vital role in the overall masterplan, continuing the design concept of the ‘Canopy’ for the factory created during the competition stage.

Each Pod-lodge facilities categorized by module types A,B and C ( A = 6 single units / B = 2 family units / C = Suites ) are strategically places on the site to provide unit privacy through orientation and planned landscaping. Solar panels are also incorporated into the design to generate power for each units. The primary perimeter wall of each Pod-lodge is operable using an accordian wall panel system. This provides a full extension of interior space to nature and within each panels, operable louvers are designed into each panels to provide the user controlled privacy and promote cross ventilation.
Similar to the concept developed for the factory, the roof overhangs to provide shade for the units. The roof also slopes inwards to channel the collection of rainwater down to a cistern below grade while enhancing the concept of outward reaching gesture connecting to the landscape.

In short, the design of the Pod-lodges will incorporate the essence of the cacao plant to tell the story of the Kallari organization and the Kichwa community.

- I will be posting more renderings + design sketches -

- Chunsheh Teo - Email me

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Developing Nations License License.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 |

'Beyond the Challenge'

It is a great priviledge to introduce a new team member, Rene Martinez as the new Building Technology Consultant for the second phase. To update the new team structure for Phase 2 -‘ Beyond the Challenge’, here is the latest update of team members and responsibilities moving forward.

'Team Updates'

Heather Worrell - Lead Organizer

Chunsheh Teo - Lead Designer

Igor Taskov - Lead Renderer

Fernando Pagan - Lead Communication expert (Spanish) , Building Technology Consultant

Rene Martinez - Building Technology Consultant.

For additional information please visit

- Chunsheh Teo -


The end of the Competition Challenge + The new beginning of ‘Beyond the Challenge’

It has been a few months since the wonderful and educational trip back from Ecuador and it has been a few very busy months at work but to summarize the first phase of the Kallari project, here is a great report by Elaine Huang of AFH that wraps up the design competition stage for the Chocolate factory.

- Chunsheh Teo -

All team members will be posting here, see the archive by pulling the pulltab above

About the project and to make donations...

Open Architecture Network-Kallari

About those who support us...

RATIO Architects

RAY Architects Engineers