Cameron Sinclair is speaking to us on the PopTech stage in the morning session of the last day. A disclaimer, “I’m Scottish,” he says. That can mean all sorts of things. I was married to a Scot, so I know. And life was always interesting and adventurous! :-)
And it appears he has this quality too, as a recent winner of two prizes, including one from TED.
“Who is Architecture for Humanity?” asks Cameron, as he starts to describe his program, which is a non-profit set up to seek and promote architecture and design solutions to humanitarian crises. “I’ve created a system which is completely open source,” he says.
He has implemented a number of programs, including housing ideas for returning refugees in Kosovo; mobile health clinics to combat HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa; mine clearance programs and playground building in the Balkans; and earthquake recovery assistance in Turkey and Iran.
He shows photos of some of his projects including the creation of a healthcare facility for young girls in Somkhele in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Regarding AIDS, “even if you give them all the drugs in the world, it isn’t going to work if a solid nutritional program is in place,” he says.
Cameron talks about their reaction and appreciation of what this project has done for them. Cameron recaps as does an accompanying film – “Thank you, thank you for bringing this mobile healthcare into our community.” Remember that this is an area, where the AIDS rate is as high as 40%, and in women, its over 50%. In young girls, its even higher and because of the stigma of AIDS, young girls will not go to a clinic.
They’re also working to create relief in sustainable ways in areas hit by Katrina. Their projects are far reaching – beyond Africa and internally at home, to Kashmir Earthquake in the East. One of his main goals is to make innovative affordable housing for everyone in the world. A lofty goal.
This man talks with conviction and with passion, particularly as he gives us sad stats to think about — he reminds us that they’re not getting better, so we need to do something. What government has built versus what they’ve been able to create in shorter periods of time is astounding. AND says Cameron, “My favorite part is when I’m able to say, you, the community, have built this, not us.”
His ending remark: “Whatever you do, design like you give a damn.”