Over 100 Australian architecture studios recently banded together to form Architects Assist, a referral program offering free design and planning assistance to help those impacted by the fires that began in October 2019.
Architect Jiri Lev, founder of Atelier Jiri Lev, launched the initiative to address the disaster that’s now burned nearly 2,000 homes and countless structures. "There are many generous people in architecture always willing to help," Lev told Dezeen. "Further, some geographic areas have few architects, whilst others are supersaturated to an extent where multiple simultaneous efforts may overlap or conflict. A joint referral and coordination platform appears to be the natural outcome."
The program essentially operates as a coordination center, where a growing list of architects—several of whom are Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal winners—can connect to projects according to availability and areas of expertise. Designs are meant to replace lost structures and homes while prioritizing affordability, spatial efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency in future disasters.
It’s still unclear how many will ultimately need or use the service, but Lev anticipates more applicants in the aftermath of the fires. "When the fires are finally over, people will likely need some time before they can even begin to think about rebuilding," he says. "At this point, I can say with some confidence, we are ready when they need us."
Members of Architects Assist have created a bushfire-zone design database to share knowledge and expertise for future builds. A separate database comprised of architecture students and recent graduates has surfaced to provide additional support.
Architects Assist will be an ongoing program available to Australian communities from here forward. If you or someone you know is in need, head to the Architects Assist website to apply.