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 San Francisco - 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…
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…
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.
In a few minutes, Barack Obama will give his Back to School speech (read full text at the Huffington Post), just after the results for the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge are announced.
Near the ending, Obama says “I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too”. Cameron Sinclair, founder of Architecture for Humanity, responds on Twitter “Sir, your welcome”.
This year the Open Architecture Challenge called architects, designers and engineers to rethink the classroom of the future. Sounds like a typical competition, but it is not: they were required to collaborate with real students in real schools in their community to develop real solutions.
The winner of this year’s Challenge is the Teton Valley Community School, with a project designed with the emerging practice Section Eight [design]. The Teton Valley Community School in a non-profit independent school located in Victor, Idaho, which is one of the most underfunded school systems in the nation. Currently the school is based out of a remodeled house, but thanks to this award they are closer to get a full classroom.
There are also other awards that I will describe later, but this is more than just prizes. The Challenge received over 1,000 entries, entries that can become real projects that can help improve the quality of education around the world. Architecture for Humanity established the Classroom Upgrade Fund, that hopes to provide seed funding and support to local schools in implementing the design solutions they have developed.
Architecture for Humanity is a a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and brings professional design services to communities in need. A few years ago they adopted an open source model to let architects share designs with a Creative Commons license, resulting on Open Architecture Network, an open collaborative tool that allows people around the world to implement these architectural solutions.
AFH also edited the book Design Like You Give a Damn, a compendium of innovative projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of design to improve people’s lives. A second part is currently on the works.
Cameron was included on the list of the 13 young architects that presented their work on the closing session at the AIA Convention this year. He is also a Green Giant and a World Changing contributor, and has presented the work of AFH on TED (in my opinion, a highly motivational presentation).
I have decided to split this interview in two, leaving the regular set of questions in one part, and other specific questions on the other. This part focuses on how AFH works, delivering architectural solutions to the ones who can’t afford it in an innovative way, and also on the current economical crisis as an opportunity and Katrina.