The New South Wales bushfires that have been ravaging parts of Australia since September 2019 have inspired a group of local architects to provide disaster relief in a manner fitting of their profession, free of charge. There are currently over 200 registered architects and over 400 architecture students volunteering to represent Architects Assist (AA), a nonprofit organization that, according to their website, is dedicating their resources and collective expertise to “to enable those affected by the present and future disasters to rebuild their lives, either by themselves or with help from the community, at once or in stages, with minimum amount of money.”
The nonprofit will respond to inquiries on their website by connecting those affected with members of the design team to determine how best they can help. In most cases, its members will plan and design structures to replace what individuals, small business and communities have lost to the fires. The design outcomes, the organization ensures, will be resilient to future natural disasters, comprised of sustainably-sourced materials, spatially efficient, and as inexpensive as possible to construct.
The group was established by Jiri Lev of Atelier Jiri Lev, a local architecture firm specializing in sustainable building, urban design, and humanitarian work. “With the growing scale of the disaster,” Architects Assist explains, “it soon became obvious that the resources of individual firms will not be sufficient to assist all those requiring help, and so Architects Assist was established.” The group operates as a country-wide network rather than as an organization with a central office, to address the fact that many of the fires are located in regions without a surplus of architecture offices to provide services.
Architects Assist has already enlisted a significant number of registered architects and students since forming on January 3, and are still seeking potential volunteers to apply on their website.