Architecture for Humanity: Making the World a Better Place Through Design


Architecture for Humanity is a non-profit design services firm that is dedicated to building a more sustainable future through the power of good design. They offer professional design services to non-profit organizations, including charity organizations, social entrepreneurs, and community groups.

What They Do

Architecture for Humanity promotes a holistic design philosophy that includes not only the sustainability of the building materials, but also how the building will improve the lives and livelihoods of its occupants and impact the local community. It focuses on several aspects of sustainable design, including disaster mitigation and reconstruction, poverty alleviation, climate change prevention and adaptation, and designing for at-risk populations. As part of these goals, Architecture for Humanity emphasizes community design, which seeks to engage the entire community in the design process. Individuals and organizations from the local community have the opportunity to make decisions and set priorities, resulting in more environmentally and culturally appropriate designs.

architectureforhumanityArchitecture for Humanity works on a wide variety of design projects around the world, including everything from single family homes to large community centers.

One Architecture for Humanity project currently under construction is the Mahiga Rainwater Court, part of The Nobelity Project‘s Mahiga Hope High School. The Mahiga Rainwater Court will be a full-size basketball court incorporating a rainwater collection and purification system capable of collecting and treating 90,000 gallons of rainwater per year. The court also incorporates a covered performance area for local music, theater, and film performances, an outdoor covered classroom, and a dining area.

Architecture for Humanity has been deeply involved in efforts to rebuild Haiti following the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. Their current projects in Haiti include the Haiti Schools Initiative, which seeks to get children back in safe schools as quickly as possible, and training programs in earthquake and hurricane resistant construction and design for local Haitian masons, builders, and architects.

openarchitecturenetworkArchitecture for Humanity’s commitment to innovative open source, community based design is especially evident in one of their most well-known projects: the Open Architecture Network. The Open Architecture Network is a online sustainable design social network that allows designers to share plans, elevations, even CAD files, with the goal of creating and open source architecture database to share knowledge and drive innovation in sustainable design.

How To Help

Architecture for Humanity offers a wide range of ways for for design professionals and interested laymen to get involved. The organization offers both traditional donation opportunities and the ability to sponsor an individual designer. Architecture for Humanity also uses a variety of different events and social networks to raise awareness of its work, from formal fundraisers to casual gatherings and Tweets. You can also become involved in your local chapter of Architecture for Humanity (or found one if there isn’t one) and become involved in   improving design in your own local community.

In addition to contributing to the Open Architecture Network, amateur and professional designers might also be interested in offering design services, entering any of Architecture for Humanity’s frequent competitions, or seeking a design fellowship with the organization.

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