I’m always inspired by what happens when people pool their expertise and think creatively. And Architecture for Humanity is doing no less than finding solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. They are an international nonprofit design services organization that believes innovative and sustainable design can change the world. They respond to natural disasters as well as systemic issues around the world by asking architects, designers and engineers to develop real world design solutions through an open source network. They also fund the building of these much-needed structures, while always involving – and where appropriate skills-building with – the communities they work in. To this end they are working to provide safe emergency and transitory shelters to displaced populations, while also addressing world poverty, and accessibility to water, sanitation and medical care through architecture. They also do this sustainably, not because they’re treehuggers, as co-founder Cameron Sinclair says, but because it’s a matter of survival when you’re living on a meagre income.
How they Work:
- They are a global network of 40,000 professionals sharing their design, construction and development services with those who critically need it
- Architecture for Humanity also works to cut through red tape to ensure (re)building can take place in the communities without delay
- They fund, fundraise, and match funding partners with projects
- Empower communities to be part of the building process through skills development
- Keep an open source catalogue of designs that anyone in the developing world can access. Once a building has been established, plans are available for free to be reproduced anywhere.
Some Highlights of their Work
Global Village Shelters: A weather resistant recycled cardboard house for four was designed by father-daughter team Daniel and Mia Ferrera in 2005 in response to hurricane ravaged Grenada that decimated 85% of housing stock. These structures cost about $500 and can be assembled in less than 1 hour by a team of two. These transitional housing structures last about a year, giving residents time to move into permanent housing.
In 2007, Architecture for Humanity launched a design competition for a mobile HIV/AIDS clinic for use in Sub-Saharan Africa. This winning entry by KHRAS Denmark is constructed from a shipping container – a solution that’s durable and mobile. These will soon be operating on the ground.
Designing Freedom: The Syracuse University School of Architecture’s Freedom by Design Group worked to design and build a wheelchair ramp that doubles as a unique deck for outdoor entertaining for a resident in declining health who was homebound due to mobility issues.
Architecture for Humanity to Help with Rebuilding Efforts in Japan and Your Kids Can Get In on the Action!
Architecture for Humanity has several chapters in Japan. They are currently raising funds that will go towards rebuilding in the devastated Sendai region. To help with this initiative Students Rebuild have teamed with DoSomething.org to give students and youth a way to help by collecting 100,000 origami paper cranes. For each origami paper crane collected from youth around the world, $2 will be donated to Architecture for Humanity by the Bezos Family Foundation. Once all 100,000 origami cranes are collected they will be woven into an art installation – a symbolic gift to the youth of Japan from their global counterparts. For more information, origami instructions, and where to send cranes, visit Paper Cranes for Japan.
And If you’ve got 20 Minutes, Cameron Sinclair’s TED Talk