Most of the built fabric in Africa has been constructed without architects. This is both an opportunity and challenge for architects who choose to build in the African context. Many locally-trained architects are embracing imported building techniques like the use of concrete blocks made from imported Portland cement and the incorporation of curtain walls in their designs. This approach, as we know, fails to address the climate or consider the life-cycle, cost and availability of building materials or construction techniques. Within the context of  “Help to Self-Help,” a number of architects have turned to building as a form of community, urban, and rural development. They practice within a framework of architecture that seeks to impart skills that may outlast the physical construction of their projects. Their designs, for example, incorporate technology in-reach to local craftsmen and account for incremental growth typical in African communities. In effect, their architecture is intended to produce greater societal impact.


Ross LangdonRoss Langdon is director of Regional Associates, an award winning architecture and research consultancy specializing in unconventional sustainable design solutions. Working across a diverse number of fields from both the public and private sectors, Regional Associates focus on eco-tourism, development analysis, public infrastructure, and private residential projects. Derived from the specifics of research conducted for each site and project, Regional Associates produce sustainable design solutions responsive to the availability of local materials and skills, ensuring sensitivity to both climatic conditions and local communities. Langdon graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honors and the university medal. He co-founded Langdon Reis Architects in London, 2008. The studio won a number of competitions, collaborated on a number of large-scale urban studies and completed small residential projects. Prior to this Langdon worked for a variety of architects including Sam Marshall, Drew Heath, John McAslan and David Adjaye. He is currently working on projects in London, Sydney, Norway, Uganda and Rwanda.




Alan Ricks, Founding Partner of MASS Design Group, is a recipient of the New York Architecture League’s Emerging Voices Award and named to Forbes 30 under 30 list of most influential people in art and design. Alan oversees MASS’s global operations and manages a portfolio of projects that improve community health. MASS’s process is based upon immersive research and partnership to design innovative strategies that leverage the instrumentality of the built environment to maximize direct outcomes. Projects of note include: the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, a finalist for 2011 World Architecture Festival Health Project of the Year; the GHESKIO Tuberculosis Hospital in Haiti; research on infection control and health facility design for USAID; and policy development for the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Alan regularly speaks on the role of design and infrastructure in improving health and affecting social change – most recently at the Global Infrastructure Initiative in Istanbul, where McKinsey and Company and Albright Stonebridge Group gathered leaders of companies, countries, cities and global institutions to address new methods of delivering 21st century infrastructure. Alan received his Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College and his Masters in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health’s summer executive education program on health facility design, and previously served as a Sasaki Distinguished Visiting Critic at the Boston Architectural College, and an Entrepreneur in Residence at Clark University.



Heinrich Wolff

Heinrich Wolff is an architect who believes architecture can be a force for social change while advancing the global architectural debate. Born in South Africa, Wolff studied at the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town. He is in practice with his wife Ilze as Wolff Architects in Cape Town, South Africa. Their design studio is concerned with developing an architectural practice of consequence through the mediums of design, advocacy, research and documentation. Heinrich was in partnership with Jo Noero from 1998 – 2011. Heinrich’s work has been exhibited internationally, the most significant exhibitions being the Venice Biennale (2006 & 2010), MoMA (2010), the Sao Paulo Biennale (2005 & 2007) and  the South American Architecture Biennale – Ecuador (2008). In 2007, Heinrich won the prestigious DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture, in acknowledgement of his work in South Africa. With his practice Heinrich received the Lubetkin Award in 2006 from the RIBA for the Red Location Museum of Struggle. He has won several other international and South African awards for excellence in design, most notably for public buildings such as schools and hospitals. Heinrich has taught at universities in South Africa and in the USA and currently holds an adjunct associate professorship at the University of Cape Town. The focus of his research and writing is on developing an imaginative and proactive attitude to political change and social justice through architecture.



Ann YoachimAnn Yoachim (Moderator) is the first Loeb Fellow from the field of public health. Based at Tulane University in New Orleans, she works with communities, professionals and policy makers to integrate public health, livelihoods, natural resources and ecosystem management in a range of planning efforts for New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. Her experience in international development, including work in Kenyan informal settlements, has focused her on how changing climatic conditions are and will be shifting population concentrations. Ann will examine how planners and designers can collaborate with public health and development professionals to anticipate global trends and support people as they respond to these challenges before times of crisis.