Ipuli Medical Training Center

Architecture for Humanity

Location: Sausalito, California
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Architecture for Humanity demonstrates that design can actively change and improve lives. In 1999, Cameron Sinclair, who trained as an architect in London before coming to the United States, and freelance journalist Kate Stohr founded Architecture for Humanity as a charitable organization to promote architectural and design solutions to global, social, and humanitarian crises. With the idea that innovative, sustainable, and collaborative design can make a difference where resources and expertise are scarce, Architecture for Humanity launched an international architectural competition directed at solving the housing problem facing returning refugees in Kosovo. The following Architecture for Humanity competition, for a mobile AIDS medical unit in Sub-Saharan Africa, also received a great deal of international attention and participation.

Over the last seven years, Architecture for Humanity, which is entirely open-source and works with 3,800 volunteers in 104 countries, has worked on projects in over twenty different countries, often in response to natural disasters. These include the project Siyathemba, a girls’ soccer field and AIDS treatment center in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa; and an immediate response to the destruction and flooding on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. In December 2004, a series of earthquakes in Northern Sumatra resulted in tsunamis leaving 200,000 dead in twelve countries. Architecture for Humanity worked with the Web site to raise $100,000 in twelve days, and used its worldwide network of volunteers to organize the construction of emergency shelters, community centers, and schools in Tamil Nadu, India, and Pottuvil and Kirinda, Sri Lanka.

Sinclair has increasingly taken on the role of advocate for humanitarian-directed design. He has consulted with government bodies and relief organizations on a number of subjects, including mine clearance in the Balkans, earthquake-resistant construction techniques in Turkey and Iran, and refugee housing on the borders of Afghanistan. Architecture for Humanity is completing the construction of a joint school and AIDS information and treatment center in Ipuli, Tanzania. The project, initiated by Nobel Prize nominee Neema Mgana, is designed by former competition finalists Nicholas Gililand and Gaston Tolila of Paris, France. Part of a larger complex, the building, due to be completed by June 2007, will stand as a testament to what a few people, a vision, a need, and a small amount of money can accomplish.