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Architecture for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings design services to communities in need. We believe that where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative design can make a difference. By tapping a network of professionals willing to lend their time and their talents to helping those who would not otherwise be able to afford their services, we support community development, help communities rebuild after disaster and provide pro bono design services to community partners around the world. Through the power of professional design, we build safer, more sustainable and highly innovative structures--structures that become assets to their communities and ongoing symbols of the ability of people to come together to envision a better future. Our vision is one of a world where designers innovate globally to build housing, schools, clinics and other essential infrastructure locally. We believe that this can be achieved not by replicating a design that was successful in one situation in another, but by encouraging locally-inspired designs and by enabling these solutions to be shared and freely adapted by all. To realize this vision, Architecture for Humanity created the Open Architecture Network, the first site on the Web to provide access to open source architectural plans. Finally, through competitions, workshops, educational forums, exhibitions, and other activities, we foster public appreciation for the many ways that architecture and design can improve lives.
Since Hurrican Katrina, Architecture for Humanity has been working throughout the Gulf Coast to help families repair and rebuild their homes. Our funding has supported everything from property surveys, to assessments to creating construction guidelines and standards to the design and construction of homes. Through this program the rehabilitation of hundreds of partially destroyed housing stock is under way. However, for true long-term reconstruction we need to address the way we build in hurricane prone communities. The goal of the Biloxi Model Home program is to provide design services and financial assistance for the construction of homes that for families in Biloxi, Mississippi whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Families are paired with a team of professional designers who work with them one-on-one to design a new home for their property that is not only affordable but is also sustainable and meets the area's new building requirements. The pilot program is unique in that it offers families the opportunity to work one-on-one with architects and design professionals giving them access to expertise and design talent. Using the latest in materials research, disaster mitigation and sustainable building techniques, we see this as an opportunity for architects to help set the bar for new construction in the area. These designs address sustainability not only from a material and energy use stand point but in a community development sense as well. Setting standards of design and construction at such a critical scale impacts the life of the community itself. By rebuilding responsible homes in a devastated community families have a real base for contributing to the reestablishment of their community, rather than just getting by until the next disaster.
- Thomas Calhoun
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