Abuja, Nigeria., March 10, 2016 –
On Thursday, the 30-chapter international organization of volunteer humanitarian designers and architects once affiliated with defunct nonprofit Architecture for Humanity announced its new brand and identity as the Open Architecture Collaborative (OAC).
After over a year of development, the Open Architecture Collaborative (OAC) has determined an ongoing, autonomous identity and governing structure, following the January 2015 closure of the nonprofit that originally orchestrated them, while staying true to the shared values and practices of participatory design. In January 2016, while simply calling themselves the Chapter Network, the organization named its Executive Director, Garrett Jacobs. Jacobs has since been guiding the final decisions on organizational name and logo, the launch of a website, assembly of a Board of Directors, and election of 11 regional leaders.
“Every day I am awestruck by passion and momentum this group of people brings to preserving and growing our organization,” said Jacobs. “The mission of equitable professional service first brought us together, and the power of its impact and ongoing need has kept us driven. Now, the OAC takes our work to the next level, retooling our approach to reach more people than we ever imagined with the level of locally-focused engagement that humanitarian design ultimately demands. I very much look forward to what we will do together in the months ahead.”
The OAC aims to address two fundamental issues in the built environment: lack of hands-on community experience for young professionals, and limited access to design services for marginalized communities. With the intention of ground-up governance informed by local issues, the OAC can empower local leaders to contribute resources and best practices to a global design network.
“The OAC’s launch shows that our process works. This past year we turned participatory design on ourselves to create this organization,” says Jacobs. “There are hundreds of people who experienced this process and now feel an incredible sense of ownership over this name and this brand. Imagine what our places would be like if everyone felt as proud in their creation and change. We are working to make such visions realities large and small around the world.”
Currently in development, the Open Architecture Collaborative’s bylaws intend to preserve flexibility for local chapters to conduct their work as needed to be most in tune with their communities. The OAC would then provide oversight and professional resources to guide successful outcomes and equip more members and partners with tools, knowledge, and experience.
Jacobs continues: “I personally believe that designers and architects have a privileged view to how things get built in this world, and we can use that insight to help others advocate for themselves to gain agency in our cities and rural communities. We need to be intentional about who we work with and the inclusive processes we use so everyone can feel a sense of ownership over what they create.”
The OAC conducted its first Board of Directors meeting on Sunday, March 6. The board consists of seasoned professionals and experts with backgrounds in architecture and design, affordable housing law and development, academia, innovative business practice, network structures, marketing, and branding.
“This organization defines good design as something beyond the aesthetic and functional, but that which thrives on inclusivity and empowerment,” said Maryam Eskandari, founder and principal architect of MIIM Designs, LLC. “Personally, I am excited to serve on the Board of Directors, and to continue pursuing MIIM Designs’ passion: ‘design communities and create culture.’ We look forward to contributing to a design platform that betters our communities.”
The Open Architecture Collaborative is currently completing its bylaws, at which point it will apply to become a United States 501(c)3 organization. The OAC has one remaining Board vacancy for an experienced nonprofit manager with a financial background.
About the Open Architecture Collaborative
The Open Architecture Collaborative is an international collective of locally-focused volunteer chapters whose members include designers, allied professions, and community partners numbering over 11,500. We share the values of a collaborative approach to social impact projects and community advocacy. As a self-governing organization we are currently a fiscally sponsored California Benefactor Corporation, and are in the process of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization as a commitment to providing more opportunities for designers to connect with and serve local marginalized communities.
FOR RELEASE 6AM EST 3/10/16
Regional Rep. Africa
Open Architecture Collaborative
Phone: (234) 8035928718
Garrett Jacobs, Executive Director