In 2007, as eager young architecture students in Trondheim, Norway, Andreas Gjertsen and Yashar Hanstad won a competition to renovate a house for under $200,000. Seasoned travelers who had witnessed firsthand “a way of building that made important architecture for a fraction of the price,” as Hanstad puts it, they became disillusioned with their supposedly “tight” budget and with the conventional Western approach to residential architecture. “We wanted to use what we know to make things that have meaning,” says Gjertsen. After raising nearly $100,000, they moved to western Thailand and spent a year designing and building a series of houses, a library, and a bathhouse for orphans along the Thailand-Burma border. “Showing the local community the potential in local resources is a big part of the long-term benefits of projects like this,” says Hanstad.