The bushfires raging through Australia have been an absolute nightmare, destroying huge swathes of natural life and vegetation across the whole country, and causing smog and poor conditions as far away as New Zealand. In fact, the effects are starting to be felt as far away as South America. As the world comes to terms with the latest climate disaster, and we look at how to deal with the immediate problems caused by the bushfires, and how to implement strategies to prevent them in future, there is another concern that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the architects of Australia.
An organisation called Architects Assist, involving over 100 Australian architecture studios, has been formed. The idea is to assist with the aftermath of the Australia bushfire crisis, offering pro-bono design services to those people most seriously affected by the disaster. People need to know that that they will be able to rebuild their lives once the bushfire has cleared. It will be a difficult road ahead, but with specialist assistance, it will be possible.
Jiri Lev, founder of the architecture studio Atelier Jiri Lev, came up with the initiative, due to the sheer scale of the disaster that has continued to escalate at an alarming rate. We are now at a point where other countries are being affected, on top of whole towns and areas in the worst-affected parts of Australia being evacuated for the safety of inhabitants.
Lev wanted to do something, but understood that it would not be enough alone to do something as an individual, instead asking a large group of architects to come together, to pool resources, and to offer assistance on a pro bono level, in order to make a positive impact.
The group will offer designs and planning for free, to replace structures that have been lost to the fires, alongside offering support and assistance to small businesses and communities where there is a pressing need to replace shops, churches, town halls, theatres and the like, in order to preserve some sense of community and a place for people to come together. As requests come into the group, there will be co-ordination to ensure the correct practice is put in touch to design a replacement structure that is made of sustainable materials and acts in resilience to future natural disasters.
Architecture is an important part of the fabric of our world, with designers and architects helping to create all aspects of our lives, from the infrastructure of roads and utilities, to the buildings that we live and work in. Understanding how important this is to everyday life, helps us to shape a better future. In the aftermath of a disaster such as the Australian bushfires, it is heart-warming to see so many Australian architects look at ways in which they can help people who have suffered as a direct result of the fires. With free design and help with planning to replace damaged buildings and structures, Australia can start to look at a brighter future, once this disaster is finally over.