Architects are Offering Free Services to Those Who Lost Their Homes in the Australian Bushfires

published Jan 9, 2020
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Credit: Daria Ni/Shutterstock
Smoke from bushfires covers the sky in Sydney on Dec. 4, 2019.

As the Australian bushfires rage on, the local design community is helping out the best way they know how.

Architects Assist, a volunteer organization brought about by the ongoing crisis, is looking to help bushfire victims rebuild their lost homes and small businesses by offering pro-bono design and planning assistance. Collaborating with close to 300 architecture firms across the country, as well as over 600 students and graduates, the service seeks to match affected Australians with creatives who will design new fire-resistant structures made from sustainable materials.

According to architect Jiri Lev, he started the referral organization to direct his community’s expertise towards making a difference.

“I think when you face the reality of a great catastrophe, it becomes unbearable to not do anything about it,” he told Dezeen. “Practitioners and students continue to sign up.”

However, even though they’ve received enquiries, they know it will be a while before things get busy.

“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.”

Rebuilding is a process that takes time, and in some cases, a process that never comes to fruition. A similar outpouring of support from the architecture community followed the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009. Despite having been provided 18 designs for fire-resistant homes, not all beneficiaries used the plans.

“After the event, people were simply not ready to rebuild,” architect Jennifer Calzini told now-defunct Mark magazine. “Emotional recovery and community rebuilding needed to happen before physical rebuilding could take place. It took time, and some people never went back to live in the towns that had burned to the ground.”

Architects Assist, nonetheless, plans to be patient and hopeful. Lev added: “At this point, I can say with some confidence, we are ready when they need us.”

You can learn more about Architects Assist by heading here. If you want to help in the bushfire relief efforts, Australian media site has put together a list of organizations and charities where you can send donations.