Season of Goodwill

17 Dec 2012

The best non-profit projects of 2012

As our regular readers will know, WAN’s News Review regularly brings details of headline news with the top names in architecture and cutting-edge projects of international interest. Since this is the season of goodwill, we thought for the last issue of the year we would bring you a round-up of the best projects of 2012 from non-profit organisations who are making a real difference to the lives of those in need across the globe.

Building Trust International

Back in January this year, we led our News Review with a truly admirable scheme by young non-profit Building Trust International (BTI). The charity offers necessary design services to communities in need across the world and this year saw the development of a new school in Mae Sot, Burma. BTI hosted a design competition to conceptualise a long-term solution for a community displaced by political instability. The design needed to be extremely flexible with the ability to be flat-packed and relocated leaving no trace on site ‘while bestowing on its users a sense of permanence when in its fully constructed form’.

The international contest was won by architects Amadeo Bennetta and Daniel LaRossa from Berkeley, California, whose dynamic bamboo-clad concept triumphed over scores of inventive entries. This creative submission incorporates a prefabricated, adaptable framework and heavy-duty, waterproof fabric with a series of bamboo panels, utilising local craftsmanship to enhance the sustainability of the scheme. The design is astonishingly flexible as its flat-pack form can be erected in any location as a courtyard school, single building or independent units, which vastly widens the scope of the community to relocate elsewhere.

During 2012, the winning submission was realised with local apprentices from Youth Connect and BTI will be returning to Mae Sot in the New Year to see the building in action. As with any charity venture, Building Trust International relies on donations to realise these vital projects and this month an anonymous benefactor has agreed to donate £1 for every new ‘like’ on the charity’s Facebook page. Click here to ‘like’ the page and make your contribution to this fantastic organisation.

Habitat for Humanity

This international organisation works tirelessly with communities in over 80 countries to champion adequate housing as a human right. A Christian movement, this non-profit acts in partnership with those living on the streets or in unsafe housing to transform lives through the provision of secure homes, usually realised through construction projects where professionals educate local people in new trades and support them in building their own houses.

One of Habitat for Humanity’s latest schemes is in Oradea, Romania where 40 volunteers from Northern Ireland joined hundreds of local volunteers to construct 6 homes in 7 days. This swift construction project was held on World Habitat Day with Habitat for Humanity working alongside a number of partner companies to also realise 5 more homes and complete an additional 2 in Preajba, providing 14 families with permanent safe housing.

Fusion Architecture

The Weweso Community School Project in Ghana is an ongoing scheme by Fusion Architecture (FA). The existing secondary school in Kumasi is grossly overcrowded as the intake of students grows year on year, resulting in classes of 70 students in rooms of only 700 sq ft.

With more than 870 students in 12 rooms, the school was forced to hold lessons in an open shed or cramped conditions leading to ineffective teaching methods. There is also a need for shelter as the open shed is unsuitable in a region where rainfall is experienced all year round.

Fusion Architecture have designed a flexible new education building as you can see in the images to the left and any donations to this much-needed project are welcome. Construction of the new facility is currently on site.

Article 25

2012 has been a busy year for Article 25, with a series of design/build schemes and creative fundraising events. WAN attended the official launch of the organisation’s 10x10 fundraiser in October where 100 artists, sculptors and architects were invited to sketch, paint or otherwise manufacture an artwork of an area of London’s West End. In auctioning off the finished pieces, the scheme raised an incredible £80,000 for Article 25’s 2013 ventures.

Also on the agenda this year was the Vocational Training Centre in Uganda for former child soldiers and abductees. Working in collaboration with Jubilee Action, Henning Stummel Architects, Michael Hadi Engineers and Max Fordham, Article 25 designed and delivered this life-changing centre for youths in Uganda and celebrated with an official opening in late November. Building work began in summer 2011 and enrolment is currently underway, enabling former child soldiers and abductees to catch up on missed literacy classes with a crèche and nursery facilities available to young mothers. The next stage of the project will be the creation of sun shades at the Vocational Training Centre using part of the wrap from the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in partnership with Dow.

Architecture Sans Frontiers International

Architecture Sans Frontiers International (ASF) is a non-hierarchical network of non-profit organisations which looks to combat urban issues through architecture and construction, as well as conservation of historical heritages to Human Development.

The ECONEF Children’s Center in Tanzania is soon to provide a safe residential environment for orphans in Jua-kali, realised through private donations to ASF. In total, the scheme will provide homes from 30 children with education facilities in sun-dried mud brick houses with corrugated metal roofs. Sustainability will play a key role with rainwater harvesting, solar panels and natural ventilation integrated throughout.

Architecture Sans Frontiers International explains: “The aim of the new ECONEF Children’s Centre is to reduce the orphanage’s dependence on private donations and eventually reach a self-sufficient standing. Management expenses can be reduced by adopting influences from the local building tradition, by using low cost and low maintenance construction solutions and by integrating green technology in the architectural design concept. The centre will produce its own electricity through the installation of solar panels. Low technology systems for rainwater harvesting and natural ventilation will be integrated in the buildings. Income can be generated by integrating cultivation of food crops and animal husbandry.”

Architecture for Humanity

Kimisagara Football for Hope Centre by global charitable organisation Architecture for Humanity and Killian Doherty | Architectural Practice was officially inaugurated on 4 October by the Rwandan Minister of Sports and Culture, Mitali Protaiswith. The centre is run by the local Organization Esperance with a mission to support reconciliation and rehabilitation in Rwanda. The Esperance centre offers opportunities to roughly 200 children in suburban areas. Through programs and courses that strengthen life skills, such as theatre and sport, Esperance is promoting social inclusion as well as physical and psychological healing for all of its participants.

The Centre is located within the heart of the Kimisagara valley; the most densely populated, disadvantaged area in central Kigali with few opportunities for young people and alarming school dropout rates. The site, located within a local primary school’s ground (ecole primaire de Kimisgara) is situated adjacent to a re-engineered water course (canal) and seasonal wetland prone to flooding. The design includes a half sized football pitch and community centre with changing rooms, educational spaces and a multi-functional gathering space. The optimised orientation of the pitch (N/S) along with a desire to define and differentiate play spaces for the existing school, and a desire to activate the pedestrian way along the water course lead to the dynamic plan form of the project. 

The team at Architecture for Humanity have detailed their favourite architecture projects as part of WAN’s Reader Reviews feature in this week’s News Review. Click here to read their submission.

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