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Tackling AIDS and Building Goals in Rural South Africa

designs for hopeFor most of my waking hours I run Architecture for Humanity, a non-profit that promotes architecture and design solutions to humanitarian crises. This afternoon we announced the nine finalists for Siyathemba, an international design competition to develop a football field and healthcare facility for youth in Somkhele, South Africa. "Siyathemba" is the Zulu word for hope.

In many parts of Africa sporting activities, especially soccer, are being incorporated into a variety of programs geared toward helping youth address a broad range of issues affecting their lives. Over the summer we issued a challenge to the design world to create the 'perfect pitch' in Somkhele, an area with one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world.

This facility, run by medical professionals from the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, will serve as a gathering place for youth between the ages of 9 and 14, and will serve as the home for the first-ever girls football league in the area. The pitch will also act as a place to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and eventually as a service point for mobile health care.

Design teams were to employ sustainable and/or local building materials and using paid local labor to realize their design. With a budget of $5000 (US) the facility was to include a youth-sized field, sideline benches, and a small changing room. 275 teams from 37 countries answered the call.

On World AIDS Day 2004, whose theme was "Women, Girls and HIV", an international jury of architects, designers, landscape architects, medical and sports professionals selected nine finalists and sixteen honorable mentions. Finalists included established architects as well as young emerging designers from across the globe. Austria, England, Peru, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States were all represented.

During December the final schemes are being presented via a traveling 'road show' to schools, clinics and community gathering places throughout the Somkhele region. The road show, led by juror member Rhana Naicker from the Africa Center for Health and Population Studies, will present the designs to the community explaining each project in depth. At the end of the tour local representatives and the newly formed Siyathemba girls football team will then select the winning entry.

Land has been secured with a temporary football field in place. With funds raised from the entry fee for the competition ($20) and donations from individuals and the Red Rubber Ball Foundation, the chosen concept will be built in 2005 with the Somkhele Girls football team kicking off its first match at the new pitch by the end of next summer.

FYI: To do a 'press release' costs 25% of the cost of building the entire project, so y'know, tell your friends or add to your blog...

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Best wishes on your work Cameron!

We're set to finish building a school and community project in Bihar, India and could use that kind of ingenuity in our upcoming work. How did you put the project out to the design community?

Best wishes on the grassroots promotion. I'll be sure to crosspost to our blog and msg boards.

Posted by: Jennifer Evonne on 3 Dec 04

Congratulations, this is such a nice project.
Now let's all hope that this kind of projects survives the continuous shocks in the South African government's AIDS program (rising prices of anti-retrovirals, willingly excluding certain areas from monitoring, etc...).

Posted by: Lorenzo on 5 Dec 04



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