This is a self-help manual, illustrated in simple graphics and with minimal text for people with limited language skills, on how to build a very basic house. Conceived by Nicaraguan Ministry of Housing director Edgar Herrera, the book was a volunteer effort intended to help alleviate the rural housing shortage in the war-torn northern region which was being invaded by a mercenary army known as the Contras. It was one of many relief projects organized and facilitated by the U.S.-based N.G.O. Architects & Planners in Support of Nicaragua (APSNICA).• view 'Manual Gráfico para la Vivienda Popular' as a picture gallery •
The book was completed in 16 months, the first seven of which I spent working at the Nicaraguan Ministry of Housing in Matagalpa. The final phase was produced in Los Angeles, where a dedicated and talented group of artists assisted me with inking the pencil drawings and creating negatives for the printing press. Financial, logistical, and moral support was generously provided by Mary Alison Measures.
Several volumes would be required to adequately describe the wonderful spirit of the Nicaraguan people I encountered, and life in Nicaragua as I experienced it during my stay. My compañeros, fellow workers at the Ministry of Housing, were quite young, many under 27. In fact, the majority of the population at the time was under 30. Almost everyone lived in very modest conditions, many in what would be considered abject poverty by U.S. standards (dirt floors, no running water, minimal or no electricity). Perhaps this is one of the reasons my compañeros were so enthusiastic about the work they were engaged in, why they believed in the principles and goals that their recently-elected revolutionary government espoused. They believed, and I think correctly so, that every citizen's standard of living would improve when the awful conflict ceased and everyone could get back to the business of building their dream.
Mural honoring Ministry of Housing civil engineers and their driver, non-combatants who were targeted and murdered by Contras because of the nature of their work: they had been establishing water systems and other vital facilities for rural housing cooperatives.
(portraits by Allen Stovall, lettering by Mario Hamguien)
NOTE: Images from the book currently on display are of a low resolution and therefore not suitable for quality printing. High
resolution .TIF versions of each page, suitable for printing, will be made available for download in the future.
While this book does not, strictly speaking, carry copyright restrictions, we do request that any time it is reproduced and by whatever means, proper credit be given to the original producers: •MINVAH, The Nicaraguan Ministry of Housing •APSNICA, Architects & Planners in Support of Nicaragua •Allen M. Stovall.