Dezeen Magazine

Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity board to file for bankruptcy

News: the board of directors of non-profit organisation Architecture for Humanity has confirmed it will file for bankruptcy, but 57 international chapters have pledged to continue working under a new umbrella network.

In a statement issued on the organisation's website last night, board chair Matt Charney said that Architecture for Humanity LLC would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the US within the next two weeks.

"Architecture for Humanity has had incredible partners and funders that made our work possible over the last 15 years but, like many charity organisations, we have had serious funding challenges," said Charney.

"Our leadership worked to overcome the funding gaps to the best of their ability, but the deficit combined with budget overruns and an overall decrease in donations finally became an insurmountable situation."

Operating under the slogan "Design like you give a damn", Architecture For Humanity was founded in 1999 and raised money to fund architectural solutions to humanitarian crises around the world. At its peak it was receiving over $5 million (£3.3 million) in funding each year. Its work was carried out internationally by independent chapters, coordinated by a parent organisation in San Francisco.

But on 1 January this year the charity's head office laid off all of its staff and ceased accepting donations.

Despite the collapse of the parent company, the 57 chapters will continue to operate under the new umbrella title the Architecture for Humanity Chapter Network and have now launched an AFH Chapter website.

"Many of the international chapters of Architecture for Humanity, while they share a common name, are separate legal entities and will continue their work without pause," said Charney.

"Additionally, the US-based chapters of Architecture for Humanity are managed by all volunteer directors, and those directors have vowed to continue the work of the organisation, though it may be under a different name. It is a testament to what Architecture for Humanity has meant to the profession that the work will continue."

The San Francisco-based non-profit organisation was founded by Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, who ran it from 1999 to 2013 before stepping down to undertake new ventures. The pair did not reveal whether they would return to Architecture for Humanity under the Chapter Network structure.

"While we founded the organisation, at its heart are its design fellows and volunteers," Sinclair told Dezeen. "We are giving the chapters the space to create the governance needed to form an alliance of humanitarian designers."

The chapter leaders have also issued an official joint statement, vowing to continue to support humanitarian architecture activities across the globe.

"The commitment of this network of volunteers remains unwavering, and we vow to continue supporting our local communities," said the AfHCN statement.

"We believe design is a right not a privilege. True to our grassroots form, we are determined, agile and resilient. We are ready for the challenges of this new year and are looking towards a brighter future. United we stand stronger than ever," it said.