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When co-founders Thelma Vásquez and Luis Munguia were working at an architecture firm when they realized that many projects were being rejected because they were too small and the client could not pay the minimum that the firm would charge. For this reason they decided to leave the firm, but they were not quite sure what their path would be. The only thing they were clear about was that they wanted to let people know that they could have access to architecture without further complication. As they were not clear about the direction to follow, they saw that a good way to include architecture in the daily lives of their clients was through furniture. Thelma noted that as soon as clients realized that the furniture was well designed and built by architects, they asked them to help them with other spaces. This is how Bhauss began to be created, a Honduran digital platform that wants to democratize architecture.
The co-founders found another problem that was holding back the development of several projects: architects are not publicists and generally do not know how to make themselves known outside a firm. If a client in need of a remodel went to Google to search for architects, the first results were going to be large firms that were likely to reject their projects. For this reason, they wanted to create a connection between the two, so that consumers could find trusted architects and that specialists could work on different projects.
“This is how we created Bhauss, with the idea of democratizing architecture for both the client and the architect. Obviously an independent architect has much less expenses than an established firm, so he can perfectly do the project for the budget that the client wants. The problem was that the clients did not know how to find the architects and they did not know the consumers. The platform seeks to be that access between the two ”, Thelma explains in an interview with Entrepreneur en Español .
Image: Courtesy Bhauss
It was not until October 2020 that they opened the digital platform. Bhauss guides you step by step so that you can clarify what type of project you are looking to build. Once you create your account, the site asks you for a series of data such as your budget, the square meters, a photo of the place you want to remodel and the style of your preference. The “challenge”, as they call your project, can be taken up by different architects. Luis mentions that this is very similar to the dynamics that used to be had in architecture classes: the teacher presents a challenge and all the students propose a different way of solving it.
Any architect can apply to be part of Bhauss, including those who are still in the career and are looking to expand their portfolio. Not all who apply will be accepted and in case they are rejected Luis and Thelma make sure to give them feedback and explain why they were not accepted. It doesn’t matter if they don’t accept you, you can reapply.
“Challenges” that help both clients and architects
There was one project at Bhauss that the co-founders in particular found very interesting. It was about a father of twins who wanted to divide the bedroom they shared in two. Several architects proposed the expected solution: divide the room in two by putting a wall in the middle and that’s it. But there was one that put the beds in the center of the room and those were the ones that divided the rooms in two.
“It was quite interesting because it was a proposal, that if only one person had come up with different solutions, they would have stayed within their own framework. The solution he provided was very creative, ”says Thelma.
One of the strengths of Bhauss is that it offers a diversity in terms of the style of the solutions that are presented. There are several heads working separately trying to come up with the best solution in their own way, this gives more richness to the proposals that are shown to the client. It also forces architects to go beyond the norm or what is required and find creative ways to solve challenges.
“For us the most interesting thing is to take the role of the teacher and to be able to see how good the ideas of others are. There are ideas that always surprise us and an architect from Mexico does not think the same as one from Chile and does not think the same as one from Honduras, so we love being able to see that multiculturalism reflected in the projects. ”, Adds Luis
Once the different proposals are ready, the client can choose which one they like the most. Within the platform there is a chat so that consumers can be in direct contact with the architects and thus resolve doubts, make changes and turn the project into something more personalized. Bhauss, as with architects, is open to allowing different workers and engineers to participate in the construction. By doing this, your business model becomes more scalable and you generate more job opportunities.
So far they have done an average of 200 projects, of which the majority are in Honduras, but they have also grown to Guatemala, Chile and Mexico. To date, they have 300 architects subscribed to the platform from three different countries. At the moment they continue to develop the artificial intelligence that the platform uses to help clients make moodboards of the type of architecture style they want in their project. To achieve this, different images of some spaces will appear and depending on which one they choose, the algorithm will show them more images similar to the one they chose.
Image: Courtesy Bhauss
Thelma and Luis affirm that the biggest challenge is to change the mentality that one has about architecture since people have a bias in which they believe that architecture is something expensive and there is no way they can afford to hire a professional. With the platform they seek to be able to generate that change in the perception of the discipline, and they believe that the more people join the project, the easier it will be achieved.
By seeking to have an impact on society, they are not just trying to train architects to find a way to go beyond design and help out. But they are also taking into account another problem that we face today: climate change. Bhauss encourages his architects to design sustainable and use only materials from the construction zone, which also benefits the local economy.
Architecture as a public service, not luxury
At the end of the day, what they are looking to achieve is to be able to help people through architecture. That this can be seen more as a public service and not a luxury. As a marketing strategy, they launched a project to attract architects to the platform in alliance with the Honduran Institute of Sciences and Technology. The previous year two hurricanes hit Honduras, leaving a lot of destruction in some areas of the country. So they decided to launch the contest together with a prize of around 100,000 pesos that was to find design solutions for emergency experiences.
“For us it is very important to impact with emergency housing projects in the context of hurricanes or natural disasters or something like that. Because we feel that this is the way in which architecture should express itself, that is, to help people, not just as something purely monetary “, says Luis
They will continue to point you to projects of that nature. Even if it’s helping a single family with a room remodel, they want to make an impact for the better through their passion as a career. The whole world deserves a decent home, and as Thelma mentioned in the interview, a decent home is not just four walls and a roof.