More than a building.

From surviving to thriving.

PEOPLE

Infrastructure is a powerful tool to build flourishing communities in the face of poverty, natural disasters, and conflict. London-based charity Article 25 brings together professional architects, graduate volunteers, and engineers to transform communities through buildings. With more than 90 projects in 34 countries, it is the most far-reaching architectural NGO in the world.

Director of Projects, Bea Sennewald:

“Article 25 gets its name from the section of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states everyone has the right to adequate and dignified shelter. Our mission is to use our industry’s skillset for the benefit of worldwide communities. With a focus on schools, healthcare buildings, and housing, we liaise with other charities to identify where projects could have most impact. This kind of collaboration means we can further the efforts of their work: whether that’s by creating a clinic for Operation Smile to undertake reconstructive cleft palate surgery in Morocco, or a school in Tanzania for Able Child Africa to support children with disabilities.

“The engineering firms we work with second volunteers to our London design office – usually one day a week for three months. They gain invaluable insight into the design solutions needed in different parts of the world – it’s problem-solving with a humanitarian purpose.

“The building is of course the starting point, but is certainly not where it ends. Initial design development is a way to bring the community together and find out not just what’s 100 percent essential but also what will enhance their lives: maybe it’s social gathering spaces, perhaps it’s something that allows them to start future money-making activities… small features can create big opportunities.

“Having visited every single one of our projects, I’ve seen first-hand the value of delivering a building that can leverage economic and social development. This not only means designing disaster-resistant structures, but using materials that are made or sourced locally. By employing local contractors and workers where possible, we can train people in new skills that give them the opportunity to earn more in the future. In turn, this increase in income means they can put their children through school and transform the prospects for their family in just one generation.”

Photos: Article 25 / Grant Smith