Design like you give a damn



I remember watching Cameron Sinclair‘s acceptance talk for the 2006 TED Prize and gazing in amazement at the idea of open-source architecture. Since then we’ve come a long way, and today, his project “Architecture for humanity” is a global endeavor doing its “best to save the world, one emergency shelter and mobile AIDS clinic at a time.A regular contributor to the sustainability blog, Sinclair is now also working on the Open Architecture Network, born from the wish he made when he accepted the 2006 TED Prize: to build a global, open-source network where architects, governments and NGOs can share and implement design plans to house the world. Check out his TEDTalk from 2006:



So what does Architecture for Humanity do exactly?

Let’s start at the beginning. After finishing his training as an architect, Sinclair joined Kate Stohr in 1999, and founded the charitable organization with a single laptop, a website and a budget of roughly 700$. They wanted to promote social design and to seek architectural solutions to humanitarian crises. And they did just that. Since, it grew into an international hub for humanitarian design, offering innovative solutions to housing problems in all corners of the globe. Based in California, and with chapters in Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia, AFH responds to global events: present and past projects encompass the establishment of transitional housing for returning refugees in Kosovo, mobile health clinics in Sub-Saharan Africa, an HIV/AIDS outreach centre in South Africa, and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina in the Biloxi Model Home Program and the Haiti earthquake.


Open up usage, but what about licensing?

AFH’s Open Architecture Network enables CC licenses for designers who wish to license their designs under one of the CC licenses or dedicate their design to the public domain. When asked about the extent to which CC licenses could benefit the architectural and humanitarian design community, Cameron Sinclair responded: “By engaging more people in getting involved in these issues, CC licenses could act as a platform, like a legal standard, that designers could work from. At the moment, the industry is in a very gray area and nobody knows what belongs to who, who’s really the designer, who’s liable. CC licensing could clear that up.


TEDxVienna Social Business Talks

We had the honor of offering our stage to Cameron in November at our Social Business TEDxVienna Salon and the pleasure of watching and hearing him talk about the achievements and obstacles so far. In the next days we will share that pleasure with you, as our talks will go online. So keep checking in on our updates!


Header Image(s) from Pixabay & Gratisography

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