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John Cary on Making Social Architecture Visible

Source: Pasi Aalto, via TYIN tegnestue Architects

In the fall of 2008, the Norwegian studio TYIN Tegnestue Architects traveled to Noh Bo — a small village on the Thai-Burmese border — to design and build houses for Karen refugee children. The result is the Soe Ker Tie House, also known as the Butterfly Houses of Burma (above). The studio has received growing attention since it was founded in 2008, and recently won the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. This is one example of pro-bono architecture referred to in the following quote:

"Are architects simply less altruistic? It's a harsh but necessary question when you compare the architecture with that of peers in law. Why haven't we risen up and demanded that our work democratize access to well-designed housing, schools and civic spaces in the same way that every individual in our country has access to legal counsel and protection under the law?

The truth is that many individual architects and firms are seizing the idea of 'design for the public good,' but that the practice isn't yet institutionalized or even very visible. Pro bono work also isn't recognized by the AIA or design publications to the extent that regular fee-generating work is celebrated. As a result, pro bono design has always been, and to a great extent remains, work that architecture firms do under the radar. The root may be timidity or humbleness on the part of firms, but it hurts the movement."

John Cary, from "The Power of Pro Bono: 40 Stories about Design for the Public Good by Architects and Their Clients," 2010

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don't necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

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