Cameron Sinclair, the British-born and educated, California-based architect and cofounder of Architecture for Humanity addressed Canadian architects in mid-May about the role of architects in disaster response. There are organizations that excel in relief work, he said. Architects, though, help most if they organize to help survivors find lasting solutions over time.
Innovative, sustainable, and collaborative design makes a difference, starting with providing shelter and—through competitions, workshops, educational forums, and strategic partnerships—moving to develop the social and physical infrastructures that remake communities. Those are lessons he learned in bringing earthquake-resistant design concepts to Iran and Turkey, flood-control strategies to Southeast Asia, school buildings to India, and community planning efforts to the post-Katrina Gulf region.
Architects Without Borders founder Craig Williams offers his own take on how to approach community redevelopment after a disaster in this week’s Doer’s Profile. As first responders, he says, architects would be limited to a few individuals assessing needs to inform preliminary planning.
When the devastating catastrophe struck Greensburg, Kan., this past month, AIA members brought just such a holistic vision as they stepped up to help—and the way they determined they could help most is by endeavoring to bring the town back as a model of resource-efficient design.
Maybe architects aren’t the best first responders to bring disaster relief, but they are the ones communities are turning to for re-life.
What do you think?