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 . 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.
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  : 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, Design Like You Give A Damn  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  after the break…
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…
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.
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.
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 ArchDaily, 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.
With the realization that disasters are an unavoidable reality, Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 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.
According to the national weather service, 30 tornadoes struck 6 Midwest states hit by a string a tornadoes. In many places there was a severe weather warning but no tornado alert. Harrisburg, a town in southern Illinois of 9000, was hit the hardest with 300 homes, 25 businesses and 6 lives lost. Illinois and Missouri declared state emergencies and are being assisted by relief organizations.
2011 was the worst tornado season since 1936 and the events of this week mark an early start to the Midwest’s storm season. More tornadoes touched down in Alabama Friday morning, destroying several homes and damaging a prison. More continue to touch down as this message is going out. Harrisburg was spared further damage this week, but storm season has just begun.
Currently, community members and the Red Cross are teaming to repair roofs, clear debris and provide emergency relief services in Harrisburg. Branson, MO, launched a similar cleanup. As lightly-damaged homes and households recover, attention will turn to long-term recovery. That’s where we [the architects] come in.
Yesterday brought an impressive appeal for volunteer and fundraisings support, and Architecture for Humanity has launched the Midwest Tornadoes Recovery campaign with a fundraiser goal of $100,000.
Architecture for Humanity is calling all architects for help! If you are in the area, please consider volunteering. If you are not in the area but would like to help, just go to this link at Architecture for Humanity to donate and support architects volunteering in the Midwest.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity have announced their new strategic partnership to coordinate advocacy, education and training that will allow architects to become more involved in helping communities prepare, respond and rebuild after a disaster. The new partnership will build upon the well-established, volunteer-led disaster response programs of each organization, allowing for more resources, programs and education to reach out to a larger group of members, professionals and the public.
“Too many communities struggle after a disaster with issues related to the ongoing safety and viability of their built environment,” said Robert Ivy, FAIA, EVP/Chief Executive Officer of the AIA. “This partnership with Architecture for Humanity will help architects everywhere acquire the tools, training, and leadership skill to make meaningful contributions when their community needs them most.”
“We are excited to work with the AIA and its members to help communities rebuild lives and livelihoods,” said Kate Stohr, Co-Founder of Architecture for Humanity. “Architects are needed most when disaster strikes. Too often disaster response fails to fully address the long-term reconstruction needs of communities. By training architects to work with communities, we can help speed the transition from emergency response to long-term recovery.”
First on the agenda for the new partnership will be the development of a grant program that will be offered to local components and chapters. The grants will help fund members to work with local government agencies on planning, training and other critical initiatives that will better prepare communities for disasters.
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announce Burtland Granvil, AIA, LEED AP as the new Architecture for Humanity Sustainability Design Fellow. Succeeding the first Sustainability Design Fellow, Stacey McMahan, AIA, LEED AP, Granvil will be working directly with the Haitian community at the Architecture for Humanity’s rebuilding center based in Port-au-Prince.
“The earthquake didn’t take as many lives as the poor quality of construction did,” said Granvil. “Architecture for Humanity’s Rebuilding Center in Haiti will help educate and build together with local current and future builders of Haiti…this is the main reason why I joined Architecture for Humanity. I am here with others to work on the long-term approach. Haiti, as well as other post disaster areas, can benefit from this kind of transitional office with this mindset.”
Viewpoint’s Veenarat Laohapakakul interviews Architecture for Humanity’s co-founder, Cameron Sinclair. Sinclair begins the interview by stating, “I became an architect because of bad architecture”. He dreams of holistic design that allows for communities to grow together, believing a truly sustainable building should be an important piece of the social fabric within a community that helps achieve economic stability. “Quite often our buildings are not super beautiful, their not slick, but their loved.”
The interview discusses topics such as the mission of the organization, past and current projects, the second edition of the much anticipated Design Like You Give a Damn, the Open Architecture Network and much more. Continue after the break to view parts two and three of the interview.
Sir Peter Cook is 75 and to celebrate the iconic British architect and Archigram co-founder’s birthday, 75 established and emerging international artists have produced a portrait of Sir Peter to auction for charity Architecture for Humanity aiding post disaster relief in Haiti and Japan. Both the auction and exhibition started on October 26th and runs until November 9th. The online art auction can be found at The Adam and Eve Projects while the exhibition is up at Space, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Australia. More images are included here after the break.
Architecture for Humanity has launched the 2011 Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS, asking architects and designers to partner with community groups across the world and develop innovative solutions to re-envision closed, abandoned and decommissioning military sites. The six-month competition requires designers to work with the communities surrounding these former places of conflict to transform hostile and oftentimes painful locations, into civic spaces built for the public good. More information on the competition after the break.
In recent architecture news, Architecture for Humanity has acquired Worldchanging, a nonprofit media organization dedicated to solutions-based journalism about the planetary future. Worldchanging will merge its assets with the Open Architecture Network of Architecture for Humanity and two TED Prizes are also to be merged resulting in an unparalleled center of applied innovation, offering both ideas and tools for building a better world.
Cameron Sinclair, Executive Director of Architecture for Humanity, shared, “We are thrilled to connect with the Worldchanging community in order to expand the ways we can continue to make a difference across the world. Each project we do requires innovative solutions, resourcefulness, and passion. It’s a perfect fit.”
Architecture for Humanity has recently launched a graphic design competition to identify a compelling logo for the 2011 Open Architecture Challenge called [Un]Restricted Access. This year’s challenge is focused on re-purposing vacant military structures and sites. It will catalyze awareness, ideas, and most importantly – action.
Through a global forum, designers and architects will develop solutions that reconnect military and civilian communities. The history of these important spaces will be highlighted and hidden potential uncovered. The goal? Utilize these sites and structures for the greater good. But first things first.
Submissions are due no later than August 26 at 24:00 PST. You can enter here and find all necessary guidelines and information on the Open Architecture Network. The reward is $500 USD and a pair of night vision goggles. Yes, they’re for real.
Homeless World Cup Legacy Center / Lompreta Nolte Arquitetos, Nanda Eskes Arquitetura and Architecture For Humanity
The Homeless World Cup is an annual event, in which teams composed by homeless people from all over the world meet for a Football World Cup. In 2010 the tournament took place in Rio de Janeiro. For the first time, the organizing committee decided to build a Legacy Center, whose objective is to create continuity of the work with sport as a mean for social change.
An international design competition for the Legacy Center has been organized by Architecture for Humanity, together with Homeless World Cup, Bola Pra Frente and Nike Game Changers.
Lompreta Nolte Arquitetos and Nanda Eskes Arquitetura were the authors of the winning entry, and since January 2010 have developed the project for a Community Center in Santa Cruz (suburb of Rio de Janeiro) together with Daniel Feldman, design fellow of Architecture For Humanity. The project sponsored by Nike Game Changers had to work with an extremely limited budget and was divided in two construction phases, the first a public community facility, the second to host the Institute Bola Pra Frente.
Architects: Lompreta Nolte Arquitetos, Nanda Eskes Arquitetura, Architecture For Humanity
Location: Conjunto Liberdade, Santa Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Design Team: Thorsten Nolte, Nanda Eskes, Daniel Feldman
Project area: 310 sqm
Project year: 2010 (project and completion of first phase 2010)
Photographs: Lompreta Nolte Arquitetos, Nanda Eskes Arquitetura, Fabrício Pimentel
The most recent Architecture for Humanity Sendai relief update comes just in time to celebrate AFH’s 12th Birthday. We here at ArchDaily want to wish AFH a Happy Birthday and thank them for the 12 years of innovation and service they have provided our communities and the profession.
Design Open Mic, led by Cameron Sinclair and Chapters Coordinator Frederika Zipp, updated staff and attendees on their current relief efforts in response to the Sendai earthquake in Japan. Currently a Program Advisory Board has been assembled and Architecture for Humanity is continuing to focus their efforts on developing a rebuilding strategy and implementation process.
Architecture for Humanity’s Japan reconstruction efforts are being assisted by youth in 15 different countries. In the wake of the Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami Students Rebuild and Do Something.org have organized worldwide participation of young people to support their Japanese peers by making paper cranes.
The Bezos Family Foundation has pledged to make a $2 donation to Architecture for Humanity for every crane made. After 100,000 cranes are submitted they will be turned into a woven art installation, a symbolic gift from students around the world to their Japanese counterparts.
Here are the details on how to get involved:
- Make a paper crane ‐ view a how‐to video: (youtube.com/watch?v=Ux1ECrNDZl4)
- Turn your crane into dollars for reconstruction by mailing it to Students Rebuild.
1700 7th Avenue
STE 116 # 145
Seattle, WA 98101
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a pre‐paid-shipping label for large boxes (50 cranes or more, please).