"Project Home"

"Project Home"

March 9, 2023
Michael Chang

As claimed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in his now widely-recognized idea Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, society requires certain universal needs. Popularly illustrated as a pyramid, physiological needs such as food, water, and rest are at the base to symbolize the foundation. The next level above is categorized as safety needs, which includes shelter. Such an idea is beautifully explored in documentary Project Home, where director Laura Waters Hinson gently takes viewers by the hand on a journey of better understanding the truly sacred nature of something that not only allows its inhabitants to survive, but to flourish.

Some would argue that the increasingly common term “affordable housing” is a paradox; after all, how could something so vital to survival be anything other than affordable? In a time when exploitative wages from employers and rent from landlords are becoming more and more extreme, the housing crisis is one that potentially impacts the most people around the world. It’s an issue that 3D housing company Icon, and non-profit housing organizations Habitat for Humanity and ÉCHALE attempt to jointly tackle by revolutionizing the housing industry.

At the center of their efforts in Project Home are April Stringfield from Williamsburg, Virginia of the United States and Ana Cecilia Medina Hernandez from Nacajuca, Tabasco of Mexico. Both selected as candidates to buy newly built 3D printed homes, each is introduced in the film as a single mother of one child who, despite their diligent hard work, struggle with being able to purchase a home instead of renting. All while attempting to provide for their children, Stringfield averages 70-hour weeks between two jobs while Hernandez works upwards of 20 hours per day. Together, they aptly represent a percentage of people who have been failed by human society.

With a runtime of just 70 minutes, Project Home is a fairly short and straightforward film that may feel a bit incomplete at a glance. It may not do the best job of convincing viewers that 3D printed houses are indeed the future of housing, due to a noticeable lack of testimony by independent experts, but what it does excel at is crafting a compelling narrative of the utmost importance of a home. As Hinson chronicles the lives of these mothers as their 3D printed homes face obstacles such as red tape, inclement weather, and a pandemic, she also gracefully conveys just how important homes are for the physical, mental, and emotional health of those sheltered inside. Hearing Stringfield and Hernandez confess what a home means to them during great moments of weakness is absolutely heartrending.

If the precursor of a potential revolution to the world as we know it is the beating heart of Project Home, then the indomitable spirit of a mother doing anything and everything in her power to protect, defend, and nourish her child is its shining soul. That hard work is to be expected of a parent, but not at the cost of working themself into an early grave and robbing them of time that should be spent with their most beloved.

Feature Documentary: "Project Home"
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Feature Documentary. 72 min.