‘Architecture is where life happens,’ Cameron Sinclair said in 2012 in an inspiring talk that overwhelmed the WDCD audience. Telling the story of Architecture for Humanity, Sinclair incited the audience to ‘design like you give a damn’. Last Friday, during the WDCD2015 kick-off event, the news was announced that Sinclair will be back on the WDCD stage, this time to talk about his new organization, the Department of Small Works.
Small Works is an open source design collaborative that is advising non-profits and foundations on implementing building solutions in the field. The organization works in areas of systemic poverty and post-disaster reconstruction. It just responded to the damage done in the South Pacific Ocean by tropical cyclone Pam by helping the government of Kiribati to repair the nations main maternity ward and hospital.
At the Department of Small Works Sinclair builds on the experience he accumulated during the past two decades while running Architecture for Humanity (AfH). After leaving AfH, Sinclair started the new collaborative as a creative outlet for writing, building and designing. In 2012 it started supporting social impact designers, and within two years it began to help develop a number of sustainable projects.
Teams are currently working on projects in Afghanistan, Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Nepal, South Sudan and the United States. Projects range from re-deployable shelters for Syrian refugees to collaboration with electronic artists on a sound therapy lab for returning vets. The first completed work will be built in Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan, in March 2015 and for the 2015 Expo in Milan, Italy.
Together with co-founder Kate Stohr, the ‘eternal optimist’ Sinclair compiled a compendium of socially conscious design entitled ‘Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises’. Sinclair is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2006 TED Prize and the 2005 RISD/Target Emerging Designer of the Year. In 2008 Sinclair and Stohr were recipients of the National Design Award for demonstrating ‘that good design can indeed change the world’.
Top image: maternity ward of Kiribati after cyclone Pam had passed