September 2012: On Strength and Resilience

September 2012: On Strength and Resilience

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Sep 21, 2012
  • comments

Khairpur (Pakistan) Womens Center - finishing construction and after the monsoon

In the past weeks humanitarian design was really put to the test. Two years after historic flooding struck Pakistan, a monsoon descended on the recovering region. Among the villages hardest hit was Khairpur, focus of a Karachi Chapter reconstruction program led by architect Yasmeen Lari and The Heritage Foundation. The bamboo-based structures from this program sustained little damage. We're thrilled to see the work and methods of structural, community-based design proving themselves, and are confident they can inform any rebuilding the neighbors might consider undertaking after the storm.

In Kabul, Afghanistan's first indoor skatepark was struck by a catastrophe of another sort–yet the connections made through that building and its social program will help deliver the community through a hard time and recover...stronger.

We're psyched that our annual humanitarian design and community development forum, Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE!, is coming to the West Coast this November right before Greenbuild. Come participate in panel discussions and workshops, meet our Design Fellows making a difference in communities around the world, and be inspired by 'Design Open Mic'. If you're an AIA member, you'll qualify for 8 extended learning units. Advance registration ends Oct. 1 so get on that horn.


The Architecture for Humanity Team

San Francisco | Port-au-Prince | Cape Town | Sendai


16 de Septiembre school opening

Happy Hearts Schools
During the month of September there are plenty of reasons to celebrate in the community of Coscomatepec in Veracruz, Mexico. Not only is it the month of Mexico's national day, which gives the name to the local school, it's also when 16 de Septiembre School opened in a school courtyard the students never had before. The community is ready to start the year for more than 200 learners.

Haiti Rebuilding Center writing a lot of proposals these days and beginning to engage more community-led planning projects around Port-au-Prince. The energy in the capital, now buzzing with construction at every corner, is experiencing an unfortunately high level of crime and theft to which we haven't been immune. Nonetheless we're cautiously continuing our projects. Whither goes our work? Artists for Haiti recently released a 3-minute video:

Artists  for Haiti video: The Rebuilding Center

Japan: Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Rebuilding
Construction of the Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center is underway, led by the teamwork of client, contractor and designers. The construction perimeter is set, temporary power wired, and building corners marked on site. The end of July marks the half-way point for the Tohoku construction season, and we figured we could take stock of how our collaborative rebuilding projects are helping the tsunami-stricken region recover. Check out the four featured projects that cast a wide net of methods, materials and unique conditions.

Midwest Tornadoes Recovery

The Golden Circle Senior Wellness Center was completely destroyed in the storm so volunteers from Architecture for Humanity Chicago met with representatives from the center and the architect of record to discuss and envision the Center's needs in rebuilding. The weekend charrette's documents, diagrams and renderings of the new Golden Circle Center navigate a tight budget and will help residents secure a safe and comfortable place to live, dine and play.

SARCS @ Mogalakwena FFH Centre site - Mokopane, Limpopo, South Africa

Africa: Football for Hope
Construction season in Africa has officially arrived! Five Football for Hope sites just broke ground. Fences are in and foundations are being dug in Botswana and Tanzania. The thick jungle is being (responsibly) cleared to make room for a center in Cameroon. More site prep is underway in Mozambique - all by hand. And, while at this point one might expect to see the rover in Mokopane, the stones will be cleared, the playing field leveled and the new home for the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) built. Needless to say, these are exciting times.

Philippines Flood Response
Threadless has designed a tee with the power for good. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the featured tee will go to support the Philippines Floods Response, granting resources and leveraging collaborations for local professionals engaging cyclical disaster. The story behind the tee is pretty darn inspiring too.

Open Architecture Challenge

"The Bunker" opens in Venice, August 27

On August 27th in Venice, Italy, the [UN]RESTRICTED ACCESS finalist designs were unveiled to the world in physical form (read: presentation boards). "The Bunker" exhibition transformed a hallway of the Palazzo Bembo into an immersive environment for "Future Steps."

More amazingly, six of the finalist teams made it out for this Biennale VIP pre-party. Check out our guide to the presented designs before you start crossing the canals.

Chapters Update

AfH Chicago charrettes with members of Golden Circle Senior Center in Harrisburg, IL
Support our Chicago chapter and vote to ACTIVATE! Take a quick minute to vote for the Chicago chapter project to be considered for this year's Space In Between competition and help them win $1500. With lots of exciting projects, the Chicago chapter is looking for your involvement and participation in a host of different projects and initiatives. See the recent post about their response to the Midwest Tornadoes disaster and the reconstruction of a senior citizen center (above).

Our Dhaka chapter is moving forward with an ambitious plan to construct an orphanage for 48 children who lost their family in the Sidr cyclone in 2007. The orphanage, funded by the German-based Arts by Children foundation, will also be an educational venue that will focus on arts and theater in addition to providing safe shelter.

London Design Festival kicks off next week and our London chapter will be there! Drop by the Hackney House at 186 Shoreditch High Street E1, have a chat and check out the space which was designed as a temporary structure to stimulate local business, investment and creative interchange during this past summer Olympics. Volunteer for this event.

Architecture and Design Month is coming up in NYC. Presented in association with Archtober, Davis and Warshow Soho office will introduce our amazing New York City chapter. Save the date: October 2, 2012.

Design Fellow with crew at Manica, Mozambique, FFH groundbreaking

San Francisco Development Director, Operations Director, Web Developer, Program Development Manager, Human Resources Manager, Contracts Manager, Volunteer: Grant Writer, Volunteer: Film Editor

Port-au-Prince Senior Urban Designer, Senior Architect, Construction Manager, Directeur/Planification et conception, Haiti Team Structural Engineer, Volunteer

Sendai Design Fellow: Business, Design Fellow: Architecture,

Tamil Nadu Design Fellow

Other News

Welcome to a new member of our HQ team, Program Develop Manager Jacob Ehrenberg - glad to have you on board and to see you settling in. We bid a heartfelt farewell to Christina Weber, Development Director extraordinaire, who will keep on cheering for us.

Our fall volunteers have arrived and are already hard at work: Johanne Vestergaard, Sweden; Camilla Popp, United Kingdom; Yuko Okamura, British Columbia; Radha Muralidhara, India; Laura Cole, Oregon; Ramon Hernandez, Bay Area (California); Nicholas Earle, England; Michelle Abela, Bay Area; Garrett Jacobs, Bay Area.

And we're sad to see go some really wonderful volunteers who have been with us over the past few months: Tyler Weid, British Columbia (who is now headed to volunteer for us in Haiti); Chiara Sciotti and Stefani Tufarelli from Rome (Italy).

**Our volunteers are logging over 1000 hours a month-and that's just at HQ. Their work covers all our programs and supports us from administration to model making to renderings and graphics. We are so incredibly thankful for these high-level supporters who are as passionate about our work as we are!**

Awards for Urban Excellence. The Rudy Bruner Award celebrates urban places that are distinguished by quality design and their social and economic contributions to our nation's cities. Winners offer creative place making solutions that transcend the boundaries between architecture, urban design and planning and showcase innovative thinking about American cities. To apply for the 2013 award, visit

Architecture for Humanity's Weekly Design Open Mic (open house) When: Every Wed., 12-1 pm | Where: 848 Folsom Street, Suite 201, San Francisco, CA

Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE! 2012 When: November 12-13, 2012 | Where: Autodesk Gallery, 1 Market Street #200 San Francisco, CA 94105
Register for our 3rd annual humanitarian design conference and earn eight AIA continuing education credits. Listen to expert panelists, participate in workshops and present at Design Open Mic!

USGBC Greenbuild 2012 When: November 14-16, 2012 | Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA