Currently one in seven people in the world lives in a slum or refugee camp, and more than 3 billion people – nearly half the world’s population – do not have access to clean drinking water or adequate sanitation.
Yet, for the most part, the architecture profession has been more engaged with designing skyscrapers, concert halls and museums than with providing shelter to the masses of people who need it most. (And who can blame them, really? Everyone wants to be paid for their work, architects included.) Unfortunately, it has always been the case that the people who are in most desperate need of innovative architectural solutions are precisely those who can’t afford them.
Fed up by the lack of attention to this sorely underserved population, Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr founded the pioneering non-profit Architecture for Humanity in 1999. AFH set out to enlist the international design community to participate in collaborative, on-the-ground projects building shelters for refugees and victims of disaster around the world. Up until recently, AFH has been performing their inspiring acts of humanitarian architecture without much fanfare; but the days of under-the-radar heroism are gone. Architecture For Humanity has won a ton of awards this year – and now, to anthologize their work thus far, have just released their first book, Design Like You Give A Damn.
From the title to the very last word, the book is a rallying cry for rethinking humanitarian assistance and pursuing innovative solutions to contemporary housing crises. Design Like You Give A Damn reads like an encyclopedia of the best humanitarian architecture projects ever created, and one quick look begins to reveal the type of amazing innovations that are possible when designers start dealing with the fundamental concerns of human life.
The book covers AFH (and non AFH) projects from all over the world, ranging from South Africa to Indonesia, Iran to Grenada. But it’s not all focused on the developing world – rather it is simply about providing shelter to people who need it most. Recently, AFH has been working on post-hurricane rebuilds in Biloxi, Mississippi. Their mission is to empower members of these communities to become participants in the rebuilding of their homes, to take part in the planning, and to know how to maintain and enhance their shelters once external assistance has departed.
Inhabitat HIGHLY recommends Design Like You Give A Damn to anyone and everyone with an interest in design, architecture and the future of humanity.
So now that you know you want it, you have two options for purchase: you can buy it from the Architecture For Humanity website and know that your money is going directly into funding the construction of shelters around the world; or if you are a broke student, you can purchase it from Amazon for slightly less, and know that you are contributing to the book’s success and legacy.
Cameron Sinclair will be doing a book launch this week at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where Inhabitat’s Managing Editor, Sarah Rich, is taking copious notes on the action. An interview with Cameron will follow some time next week, so stay tuned…
$35 from Architecture For Humanity
(proceeds go directly to AFH’s charitable work)
$22 from Amazon.com
(Proceeds go to getting the word out and making this book the huge success it should be.)
One of our favorite projects featured in Design Like You Give a Damn, the Play-Pump is a beautiful example of innovative design, created in rural South Africa. Utility and childhood joie de vivre merge into an ingenuous solution for pumping water through the rotation of a merry-go-round.