SEEDoc: Maria Auxiliadora School

On August 15th, 2007 a powerful earthquake hit the region of Ica, Perú, destroying the small Maria Auxiliadora School. The first responders left after a matter of months, but the damage remained. Resources were shuffled to the big cities, and the small school waited, for years, for the authorities to take on the reconstruction. They never did.

And so, with help from Design Fellow, Diego Collazo, and with funding from the Happy Hearts Fund and the SURA Group, the community decided to take the school’s – and their children’s – future into their own hands. This SEEDoc, the latest installment of inspirational mini-documentaries from the Design Corps and SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design), tells their story.

More after the break…

Donate to Architecture for Humanity, Get A Famous Architect’s Sketch

Steven Holl 
Concept Sketch for Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Competition. 11/05/11 
Watercolor and charcoal on hot-press watercolor paper 7 x 10. Image via Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity has had a busy year. From continuing efforts in Haiti and Japan to their Post-Sandy initiative to open two new offices in New York and New Jersey, they could use a little help to get to their annual goal.

So they’re auctioning off 7 sketches from famous architects – from Steven Holl to Renzo Piano to Frank Gehry.  Everyday this week (starting December 20th), they will announce which architect’s sketch is the piece of the day on their web site. The first $5K donation before 12pm PST gets the artwork.

Check out which other famous architects have contributed their sketches, after the break…

Guerrilla Green Sustainable Showdown Competition

Courtesy of

Hosted by Architecture for Humanity, the Guerrilla Green Sustainable Showdown is a youth empowerment challenge for all US students. Using a ‘March Madness’ bracket system, they are putting the top 8 school teams from different regions against each other, to turn a great idea into a solution that can be scaled throughout the campus. If you can come up with a way to improve your school by making any space or program in your school more eco-friendly, now is the opportunity to win cash to hack your school green. Submissions are due February 1st. For more information, please visit here.

VIDEO: Highlights from Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE! 2012

If you missed Design Like You Give A Dam: LIVE!  - the Architecture for Humanity event of panel discussions and workshops at the Autodesk Gallery in  - you must check out this short video.

The event brought together people from all walks of life from all corners of the globe, united by one simple idea: design can better human life.

As ArchforHumanity co-founder Cameron Sinclair explained of the event: “We had architects from Medellin, Colombia talk about how to prevent violence through architecture. We had thoughtful leaders who have come from small towns in the Midwest that were devastated by tornadoes that galvanized their community and rebuilt them. We had lawyers that talked about how to create a better justice system – really looking at the human experience within the built environment. [...] The thing about this conference is that we don’t just show you ideas, we show you how those ideas get built.”

Check out videos of the Conference’s Panel Discussions, after the break…

Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE! November 12-13

Courtesy of

Taking place November 12-13, the 3rd annual Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE! event will consist of innovative panel discussions, workshops and the ‘Design Open Mic’ event at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. Design experts and enthusiasts, industry leaders across disciplines and more come together to address the challenges and lessons learned in humanitarian design and community development. Panel topics address cutting-edge topics and small-group workshops allow participants to gain hands-on knowledge from expert panelists. Put on by Architecture for Humanity, this will be the first year this event is coming to the west coast. For more information, including an itinerary of events, please visit their official website here.

Architecture for Humanity’s 5-Point Plan for Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction

Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

“As whenever disaster strikes, it will be many days before the full impact of the storm is brought to light, and which communities will be in largest need of design support as the broader reconstruction effort proceeds. However we are not waiting for water to recede before preparing a reconstruction campaign.” – , Architecture for Humanity co-founder

Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York and New Jersey last week, Architecture for Humanity volunteers have been in action – not just aiding in the recovery efforts, but also analyzing how/where long-term reconstruction efforts will need to be focused. Indeed, Architecture for Humanity’s co-founder, Cameron Sinclair, has already published the organization’s 5-point strategy for long-term reconstruction in the areas most severely impacted by Sandy.

Architecture For Humanity’s strategy for reconstruction (and more information on how you can get involved), after the break….

Ways to help affected communities after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

Following Hurricane Sandy’s devastating path through the Caribbean, up the Atlantic and into the East Coast of the United States, hundreds of communities are in need of immediate relief and facing the daunting challenge of rebuilding. In effort to help, Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are mobilizing their teams to provide instant assistance and plan for the long term reconstruction efforts. Professional design and construction volunteers from both organizations will be working together to help households, schools, heath facilities, small businesses and local government rebuild in the coming days and weeks. However, relief and reconstruction cannot happen without your support. Learn how you can help after the break.

OCO – Ocean & Coastline Observatory wins [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS 2011

Courtesy of Manel Espada
As previously announced, the Portuguese architects behind “OCO – Ocean & Coastline Observatory” have won Habitat for Humanity’s Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS 2011. Over 500 teams from 74 countries submitted innovative solutions for the recovery and reuse of disabled and abandoned military sites. These submissions were filtered down to 13 finalists by a jury of 33 esteemed professionals. The Lisbon-based architects of OCO claimed grand prized with their vision to redevelop a desolate military site, that once defended the coast of Trafaria in Portugal, into a civic space that promotes coastal preservation.

Continue after the break for more. 

[UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS Winners Announced!

Grand Prize: “OCO – Ocean & Coastline Observatory” – Courtesy of
Architecture for Humanity has announced the winners of the 2011 Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS competition. Designers were challenged to team up with community groups from across the globe and develop innovative solutions that re-envision closed, abandoned and decommissioning military sites. The response was overwhelming, as 600 international teams registered from 70 countries. A jury of 33 professional evaluated the submissions based on community impact, contextual appropriateness, ecological footprint, economic viability and design quality, and filtered the teams down to only 23 semi finalists. Now, the winners of those finalist have been revealed!

“We wanted people to look at former military installations and ask ‘How can we re-envision spaces that exist in difficult, sometimes hostile environments and transform them into something positive?’” stated Architecture for Humanity executive director Cameron Sinclair, as reported on Wired. “We want to  use the design process to weave the community back together. It might be a quilt of many different pieces, but in the end, it’s a quilt, and that’s what makes it work.”

Continue after the break to review the winning proposals!

2011 Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS Semifinalists

Amphibia by J.Yanez

The semifinalists were recently announced for the 2011 Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS competition. Launched by Architecture for Humanity, the competition asked architects and designers to partner with community groups across the world and develop innovative solutions to re-envision closed, abandoned and decommissioning military sites. After a hard week of voting, during which time jurors had to make tough decisions between the 200 uploaded entries, the semifinalists have finally been determined with the five winning places . They thank all of the participants for their hard work. For a complete list of all the semifinalists and their projects, please visit here. More images can be viewed in the gallery after the break.

2012 Disaster Response Grant Recipients

Helping Haiti © NY Daily News

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity have announced the five recipients of the 2012 Disaster Response Plan Grant. Awards totaling $10,000 will help each group implement their locally driven preparedness project in the second half of the year.

The Disaster Grant Program is part of the Disaster Resiliency and Recovery Program, which coordinates the organizations’ advocacy, education and training to help architects make effective contributions to communities preparing for, responding to and rebuilding after disaster.

The 2012 grant recipients are:

AFH’s I Love Architecture Charity Auction is Live!

via AFH

If you love architecture, this is one auction you won’t want to miss! has launched their highly anticipated I Love Architecture Charity Auction, featuring over 70 sketches from 50 of the world’s top architects and designers. The time to start bidding is now, as the auction will close on June 29th. All proceeds will support Architecture for Humanity.

Contributions from: Frank Ching, DJ Spooky, Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Fumihiko Maki, HWKN, J. Mayer H., Steven Holl, Bjarke Ingels, Michelle Kaufmann, Kengo Kuma, Daniel Libeskind, Andrew Luck, Richard Meier, Renzo Piano, Alysia Reiner, Kevin Roche, Richard Rogers, Moshe Safdie, SHoP Architects, Paolo Soleri, Michael Van Valkenburgh, Tod Williams + Billie Tsien, Zoka Zola and many more.

Start bidding here!

Infographic: Architecture for Humanity

Since 1999, Architecture for Humanity has been putting Architects in service of those communities who need them most. After disaster strikes, AfH uses its expansive network of contacts to get well-designed buildings built – and fast. Today, AfH has built over 2,000 structures that have positively impacted about 2 million people worldwide.

Co-founders Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair (you can find our interview with Sinclair here) also run design competitions, manage the Open Design Network, WorldChanging, and have published the best-selling books Design Like You Give a Damn and Design Like You Give A Damn [2]. Together, and with the Architects who work for them, they are redefining the role of Architecture and Design: to truly make an impact on our world.

Design Like You Give A Damn [2] / Architecture for Humanity

There are few organizations that would utter the words: “we need to constantly look for ways to make ourselves redundant” (46).

But Architecture for Humanity isn’t your typical organization. Since its inception in 1999, the company has put design professionals in the service of local communities, empowering these locals to the point where, frankly, they don’t need the architects any more.

And Design Like You Give A Damn [2] : Building Change from the Ground Up, written by Architecture for Humanity co-founders Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, isn’t your typical architecture book. More like an inspiration design manual, [2] offers practical advise and over 100 case studies of projects that share Architecture for Humanity’s mission of building a sustainable future.

Beyond chronicling inspired designs and against-the-odds accomplishments, the book importantly offers a provocative philosophy : architecture belongs, not to the architect, but to the people and the world for whom it is designed.

More about life lessons and tips from Design Like You Give A Damn [2] after the break…

After the Meltdown: Where does Architecture go from here?

© Megan Jett

You can get into Architecture for one of two reasons: good architecture or bad.

For Cameron Sinclair, the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, it was the latter. As a kid, Sinclair would wander his rough-and-tumble South London neighborhood, contemplating how it could be improved (and creating elaborate Lego models to that effect). Instead of soaring skyscrapers or grand museums, he was inspired by buildings that “integrated your neighborhood in a way that made people feel like life was worth living.”

But that’s not Architecture. Or so he was told when he went to University.

Architecture Schools have created curriculums based on a profession that, by and large, doesn’t exist. They espouse the principles of architectural design, the history and the theory, and prepare its hopeful alumni to create the next Seagram Building or Guggenheim.

Unfortunately, however, the Recession has made perfectly clear that there isn’t much need for Guggenheims – certainly not as many as there are architects. As Scott Timberg described in his Salon piece, “The Architectural Meltdown,” thousands of thousands are leaving the academy only to enter a professional “minefield.”

So what needs to change? Our conception of what Architecture is. We need to accept that Architecture isn’t just designing – but building, creating, doing. We need to train architects who are the agents of their own creative process, who can make their visions come to life, not 50 years down the road, but now. Today.

We’ve been trained to think, to envision and design. The only thing left then, is to do.

More on the public-interest model and the future of Architecture, after the break…

Mud Structure / Architecture for Humanity Tehran – Rai Studio

© Mahsa Masoudi

The exploratory mud structure project, designed and built by Architecture for Humanity Tehran (Rai Studio) + Architecture Faculty of Razi University, demonstrates a strong focus on humanitarian design through sustainable and low budget construction methodologies. The workshop not only provided the students with an enriched academic experience, but the opportunity to reach out to an underdeveloped region. More images and their description after the break.

The Multiplier Effect: How Design (and the Internet) Connects Us

Stop right there. Before I begin this post with a cliché dictionary definition, I direct you to what’s usually overlooked in these openings: the part of speech.

verb (used with object)

Without reading the definition, we know. Design is the act that connects the human being to the object outside him: the way in which intentions, thoughts, concepts take form.

On a basic level, design connects human beings through the shared experience of said object – be it functional or purely aesthetic. But it’s not just the object which connects us – it’s the idea that inspired it. On another level, and perhaps at its purest, design connects by inaugurating us into a collaborative spirit of innovation.

The AIA’s latest Design Conference, Design Connects, has invited bloggers to reflect how design connects us in a way that will build a better future. We at , biased as we may be, think we have the answer (it’s in the invitation): the Bloggers.

To read how design and the Internet connect us to thousands of elementary school kids, the sci-fi dsytopias of a NASA scientist, and a poverty-defying advocate looking to change the world  - all in 24 hours – keep reading after the break.  

David Assael and David Basulto, founders of ArchDaily, at Postopolis in Los Angeles, California © Courtesy of the Storefront Gallery

AIA and Architecture for Humanity launches Disaster Plan Grant Program

Architecture for Humanity Helping Haiti © NY Daily News

With the realization that disasters are an unavoidable reality, Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects () have launched ArchitectsRebuild.org in an effort to eliminate “that first awkward and uncoordinated period when people, eager to put their talents into response and recovery, can’t find the means.”

As we announced last month, the two organizations formed a strategic partnership to better coordinate advocacy, education and training that will allow architects to become more involved in helping communities prepare, respond and rebuild after a disaster, known as the Disaster Resilience and Recovery Program. As promised, they have now completed the first task on their agenda, establishing a Disaster Plan Grant Program. Continue reading to learn more.