Our discussion for the week was inspired by Architecture for Humanity (AFH), a non-profit company that provided architectural solutions to humanitarian crises. Unfortunately, early this year the company filed for bankruptcy and closed its headquarters although most of the chapters are still running independently. Which brought us to the question; should a firm that focuses on humanitarian architecture work as a for-profit?
We are not sure we have the answers to the question but, true legacy of Architecture for Humanity will be how they helped change the landscape of architectural culture. While one feels a sense of loss at the closing of their headquarters, we would do well to remember the words of Sinclair in his 2013 strategic plan: “Through training, practice, and a deep sense of optimism, architects see opportunities where others only see a void. This has been the driving principle behind Architecture for Humanity since our founding.” So challenges still remain and will continue to arise – by integrating ourselves within the community and by understanding the core issues hopefully architects shall make a change.
A lesser known fact that people outside the architecture fraternity are unaware of: we as architects put in a lot of time and money to be trained as architects and no we don’t bring home the big bucks when we graduate, did I mention the hours we clock in? So if we apply this equation to a non-profit organization, where one puts in twice the time and since it’s a non-profit they don’t get paid. Result: not so feasible when you have student loans to payback or a family to support, unless of course you are either financially stable or a selfless person in which case we are hiring come join us!
Architects have to make sure they are available on site from start to completion of any project so working part time on pro bono projects is not possible without compromising on the quality of the final product. We all recognized that humanitarian work is needed by our society especially with the current state of matters, but we also realize that as a studio we have ways to go before we can venture out on our pro bono project. Perhaps we start on a micro level with a product of some sorts and then move to the macro level of architecture, who knows. What we do know is that we have every intention of doing our part in facilitating a change for the betterment.
Not saying that MuseLAB will change the world (yet), but keep an eye out for us
Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.