Humanitarian architecture: On the glamour meter, the term is right up there with “FEMA trailer.” But during a recent discussion on the topic at a noisy Dinkytown bar, my ears perked up when an “elephant migration specialist” was listed along with soil engineers, architects, and government officials as a crucial collaborator on a relief project in a tsunami-struck Sri Lankan village. Cameron Sinclair, who had just finished a semester as a visiting professor at the U of M, was talking about how designers were granted permission to rebuild several buildings on a vacant lot.Read the whole thing.
But after meeting with community members, they learned why the lot had stood empty so long: “It was on a migrational route for elephants, and when elephants get really tired, they lean against trees and fall asleep ... They lean on poorly built houses and then the houses collapse.”
The housing was built elsewhere.
While perhaps not truly glamorous, this bit of trivia does offer a glimpse into Sinclair’s work as humanitarian architecture’s foremost advocate...
I wrote a short piece for the Twin Cities' monthly The Rake on Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity. It starts out like this:
at 5:25 PM