The Australian bushfires devastated quite a lot of individuals, leaving them virtually homeless. With the controversial aid from the government, local architects have come to the rescue.
100 and still counting Australian architecture studios have bound together to form an organization named Architects Assist. This organization will aid those who suffered the ill effects of the bushfires, free of charge.
This newfound organization will offer free services to bushfire victims, such as design and planning assistance. This is put into effect, as most affected by the bushfires have lost their livelihoods, homes, and funds. Architects assist have bound to help people rebuild their lives in spite of the bushfires, which have been burning since September 2019.
The plan was established and put into effect by architect Jiri Lev, the founder of Atelier Jiri Lev, one of Australia's most prominent architecture studios. When asked about the story behind the initiative, Jiri Lev has stated that "The growing scale of the bushfires disaster" has inspired him to make this collaborative effort.
Numerous different towns have been evacuated in the past couple of weeks, as the bushfires have spread through most of Australia's coastline.
Jiri lev believes that this collaborative effort is far superior to individual effort when it comes to reliving the victims of the bushfires. Inviting architects to band together was the next logical move, states Lev.
"There are many generous people in architecture always willing to help. The resources of individual firms are naturally somewhat limited, both in acquisition and delivery of pro bono work." Jiri Lev told Dezeen, a famous architecture magazine in the field.
"Further, some geographic areas have few architects, while others are supersaturated to an extent where multiple simultaneous efforts may overlap or conflict. A joint referral and coordination platform appears to be the natural outcome."
The group will help people who have experienced a crisis with their living arrangement with design and planning for structures, to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.
Architects Assist will also help small local businesses to replace structures such as stores, theaters, shops, halls, and storage facilities.
The individuals affected by the horrible Australian bushfires will have to connect with the group to get the most suitable studio for their purposes. All of these studios are operating on a pro bono basis. Therefore not all of them might be available all of the time.
Jiri lev explained that the association is acting as a coordination center, which is working to help the general populace rebound from the disaster.
Once the personnel and the studio have been paired, the design studio will provide a replacement structure for the person based on the pre-existing structure. The new building will be suitable for both the owner and builder and made out of sustainable materials, natural-disaster proof.
While some studios might be here for the humanitarian and promotional aspect, over 300 renowned studios are a part of the collective. Some of these studios are Gold Medal-winning architects, distinguished by the Australian Institute of Architects.
The group doesn't only include the best that Australian architecture has to offer, as there have been over 500 students that have applied to help the bushfire victims.
Since the fires have been burning since September 2019, the collaborative effort of Architects Assist will remain in operation for an unspecified amount of time. The number of people who are in dire need of assistance by Architects Assist is going to be satisfied with this.
Lev states that he has already received several inquiries from people who have suffered property damage from the fires. When asked about this, Lev said:
"We've started receiving client inquiries. We don't anticipate great numbers at this early stage, as the fires are still raging, and many people continue fighting for their lives. When the fires are finally over, people will likely need some time before they can even begin to think about rebuilding. At this point, I can say with some confidence - we are ready when they need us."
The founder of the organization, Jiri Lev, has expressed hope that the initiative will survive the bushfire crisis, and continue to provide help to Australians in future disasters that might occur. Lev also hopes that he can inspire by example and see organizations like Architects Assist around the world.
Lev has set up the Global Directory bt Architects Assist. This directory serves as a list that raises awareness of other communities with free assistance for coordination and design. This is put in place to inspire architects of the world, to give back to the community, free of charge.
"I'm not a great planner, but there will always be people in need, so Architects Assist will hopefully continue to operate indefinitely. I would like to see similar local grassroots initiatives addressing issues in the countries where we traditionally send international workers, despite the availability of local experts, who may perhaps just not be suitably organized," said Jiri Lev.
Members of the initiative have created a bushfire zone design knowledge-base, which will contain knowledge and ideas which will support the ability to help the bushfire victims. This knowledge-base includes the collected information of the whole collective, which will allow for more optimized workflow, and an overall more efficient service.
"Our operations are continuously evolving as we are gaining a better understanding of our clients' needs. We've also begun compiling a bushfire-zone design knowledge base. Good ideas keep flowing in, and we may continue to expand our services. It's all volunteer work with no funding. We keep our minds open as to how and when best mobilize this growing potential." Said Jiri Lev.
UK architects, including some of the most renowned names in the industry like Foster and Chipperfield, have declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.
While bushfires aren't uncommon in Australia, they're often caused by lightning strikes. The severity of the 2019 bushfires, which are still burning, might be due to the changing climate. This climate has resulted in drier and hotter conditions in an already flammable Australia.
Like Architects Assist, Airbnb is providing support to the people who have been affected by the bushfires. Airbnb offers free temporary housing to the victims of New South Wales and Victoria.
The last year has experienced a tremendous rise in climate change awareness, most likely due to the popularity of the UN speaker and Time's person of the year, Greta Thunberg. UN specialists warn that if the climate change exceeds 1.5 degrees celsius in every 12 years, the after-effects could be catastrophic.