Monday, November 23, 2009

category of culture

Peter Rich Architects have recently won the World Building of the Year award for the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa at the World Architecture Festival held in Barcelona earlier this month.
This is an authentic, beautifully crafted and culturally deep rooted building. A very deserved winner I say.
More info and images can be found here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day + cc

Blog Action Day is upon us again and this year the focus is on Climate Change (poverty was the central theme for 2008 - see our entry here). Spurred on by Practical Action bloggers, b+c have once again signed up to join an 8000+ blogging community to support this day of action. The aim is to unite the worlds bloggers and to raise awareness of key issues - and what a timely theme this is! With Copenhagen looming it is so very important to generate discussion around issues of climate change, adaptation and most of all how the worlds poorest nations who currently don't have a voice are being affected. 

There are other ways you can take action such as 350 (October 24),  The Wave (Dec 5, London)...  but if you want to make a start TODAY g0 a blogging and register here

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10 to the 100

Google project, 10 to the power of 100th is a call for ideas to change the world, in the hope of helping as many people as possible! Sounds too good to be true...

With a list that has been whittled down to 16, you can now help make the decision as to what Google spends their $10 million on! So best get voting! To do so visit here before October 8.

Friday, September 25, 2009

mixing it up

Every now and then it is good to mix things up and offer a little spice to life! Our dear friend has done just that with the utterly genious make me a mix tape. It is truly a joy and not just because you can whittle away hours of "meant to be at work time" listening to her fav tracks but you will always, without a doubt come away with a smile on your dial!

However, we must ask her forgiveness for not mentioning this earlier! In fact I have been meaning to tell everyone of this ladies talents for a while now but have been too busy trying to get through hours of her mixing madness that I haven't had a chance!

I am listening to the latest mix now and I can highly recommend it! Love your work Miss Katie Dazzle x

Thursday, September 24, 2009


We previously blogged about Anna Heringer and the inspirational Handmade school in Bangladesh here. After hearing her speak at the Finland Symposium I thought we should update you all with the latest HOMEmade project. These three family houses are a tribute to local craftmanship, a testament to true community participation and basically a great lesson in how to provide modern, functional design that is appropriate to its surroundings. Oh and did i mention that they are also beautiful?

Anna has been nominated for the CurryStone Design Award and we wish her all the best! While I am at it, also in the running for this award is Rob Hopkins from Transition Network fame. If you haven't heard about the new wave that is Transition Town then you should definitely jump on board... Rob wrote the Transition Handbook and since then more than 200 towns have taken on the Transition principles. The first Transition Town was started in 2006 in Totnes, UK where the community banded together to grow local food, lower their energy use, plan more pedestrianised paths and cycle ways and even create their own currency to boost their local economy. It just shows what can happen when communities work together...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

herbs round two

Last year I posted here about my new herb garden. Well, sadly when I was in Kenya and my flatmate was in Ireland... they died. Now we're both in new homes - and this weekend we both have new herb gardens! Sadly mine were purchased at Bunnings, and hers at the more glamorous Petersham Nurseries...

I love Izzy's re-use of a once well loved oak wine barrel... I planted ours about half an hour ago in this cool trough we had under a tree in our back garden...

... not quite as established as Izzy's yet, but it will be blooming in no time at all with some Sydney sunshine! I planted some pretty flowers to cheer up my window sill too - alas I can't see them ever making it to my window sill - too much thinking required on how to secure them!

Come and visit us soon Izzy! And bring Harriet with you! xx A

Saturday, September 19, 2009

happy villages

Our dear friends in Kenya have started up this inspiring organisation. Happy Villages aims to tackle such issues as health, education, environment, poverty, gender, communications and all the barriers to sustainable development one community at a time. Their approach is based on the UN Millenium Development Goals.

Ever the "happy" blogger George has recently added this all too true post on the facebook group: Extreme poverty is the most severe state of poverty, where people cannot meet basic needs for survival, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, sanitation, education and health care. 1.1 billion people currently live under these conditions. Extreme poverty hurts."We work towards a world without extreme poverty" join us!

b+c is right behind the Happy Villages team and we look forward to visiting a Happy Villages happy village soon! We urge you all to follow their progress and support them now and in the future as big things can only come from such a warm, beautiful bunch of passionate people!

Friday, September 18, 2009

ever the optimist!

Came across this website today. If you are feeling like you need a little lift then I would suggest having a look at Optimist World to get your daily fix of good news stories, inspirational charities, green travel ideas and loads more... happy days!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

climate change diaries

Thought I would share these climate change diaries with you. If you still think climate change is a distant concern then you must read the accounts of those who are dealing day to day with the realities of climate change. Visit here to find out more about Practical Action's work helping to secure a future for those most effected by climate change. 

You can learn more about climate change and the implications for people and poverty by attending a training course run by Practical Action Consulting in October and December. See here for more details. 

Small Is...

This little gem of a festival ran for the first time this year due to the joint efforts of Engineers Without Borders UK and Practical Action. It was a fantastically jam packed weekend of learning, sharing, practical workshops, inspiring debates and not to mention lots of fun!

The "Small Is..." Festival was a celebration of the ideas of EF Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful (1973). The main debates centered around his views on economics, appropriate technology, politics and personal philosophy.  The Edge of the Forest was one of the most popular films shown over the weekend in the solar cinema - inspiring stuff.  

Over 250 people camped out in the beautiful grounds of Practical Action to take part in activities ranging from diy rocket stoves, knocking up a hexayurt, community mapping, appropriate toilet construction, to discussions on global/local food, transition towns, climate change adaptation and markets and livelihoods. Entertainment was also in abundance with music from Zambian group Kamoto Community Arts followed by a partner swinging ceildh (for all you aussie's out there this is the equivalent to our bush dance) and some cracking local talent - this weekend had it all. 

To read more about who was there and to see some great snaps from the weekend visit here. See you all there next year...! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

one & other

Sculptor Antony Gormley has set up a project called One & Other on the fourth (empty) plinth in Trafalgar Square. The public can become living monuments while being broadcast online. It is running 24hours a day for 100 days from July until October.

It is strangely big brother-esque, sometimes utterly boring and other times fairly amusing. It is also a great way to get the message out. For those who love knitting we were there last Saturday with our needles and yarn knitting up a storm in aid of p/hop, an MSF initiative (mentioned here). You can see us and "plinther" Ruth in action with needles in hand by visiting this blog by fellow knitter Jane.

So if you are in the mood for a bit of people watching you can go to the website and tune in to the live feed!

a safe haven

We have recently come across these great structures - the Safe Haven library and bath house.
In January 2009 TYIN Tegnestue invited 15 norwegian students to participate in a workshop at the Safe Haven Orphanage, Thiland. The workshop was led by Associate Professor Hans Skotte and architect Sami Rintala (who has just chaired the Edge Symposium in Finland! More on him later).

The most immediate needs at the orphanage was a library and a new sanitary building. TYIN worked on a bathhouse, together with the Karen workers from Noh Bo, while the workshop participants put their efforts into the library.

What an amazing result! We love this project and just wanted to share with you what can be achieved with a small budget and local materials.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Teach a Man to Fish

The old saying "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have feed him for a lifetime" is the inspiration for this particular organisation. Teach a Man to Fish aims to broaden access for the poor to high quality education combining vocational training and entrepreneurship by supporting institutions to increase their financial self-sufficiency. 

The website is packed full of fantastic projects from a 100% self-sustainable agricultural school in Paraguay to other small income generating projects such as piggeries and poultry initiatives in Uganda and Kenya. 

I hope this has give you a little inspiration for the day... if so I urge to you stop by and take a further look. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finland Symposium

b+c has been invited to attend the 11th International Alvar Aalto Symposium by our good friends Finnish Architects Hollmen, Reuter and Sandman (mentioned also here.) To see more of their stunning projects visit the NGO website Ukumbi (A Swahili word meaning forum, verandah and a meeting place for dialogue and discussion.)

The Symposium will be held on 7-9th August at the University of Jyväskylä which was designed by Alvar Aalto in 1954—55. As one of the b+c team is currently in Europe we are hoping to make it to this fantastic event. This statement below sums up why we think it is important for us to attend:

Inside the urban hubs of the Western world, a feeling of safety prevails. We continue to enjoy the highest standard of living ever known to humankind. At the same time, we are fully aware of the results of our culture of consumerism. Therein lies the greatest paradox: We are forced to actively forget reality to be able to enjoy the facade of excess we have created around us.

Yet outside the main stages of the metropolis is where our work is needed. There are a few architects who challenge the conventions of the profession and the ever-dictating forces of the market; they go where the real problems are and try to solve them with insight, economy and wit. These people are the pathfinders towards the next revolution in architecture, which will not focus on style, but on the balance between man and nature – or, in short, survival.

Sami Rintala, Chairman

To see the amazing programme and line up of speakers visit here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We have just been introduced to EdKenya through the Chairman of Harambee Schools Kenya who has just set it up. It is an online community for NGOs involved in Kenyan education. It has only just started and is just getting going, but it's free to join and looks great! 

It will be such a valuable tool when looking at planning schools, networking with those who have worked on educational projects previously and to share like experiences.

If you are involved with a school project or with school policy and education in Kenya make sure you sign up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

glorious gardens

We were blown away by the Thuthuka School garden in Tembisa Township near Johannesburg as seen last week on Around the World in 80 Gardens. After viewing some stunning botanical gardens in Cape Town and a beautiful and opulent garden and home in Parktown, Johannesburg - the Thuthuka School garden brought tears to my eyes! The students work in the garden of their school to grow edible herbs and flowers, vegetables and trees. The children are so happy and delighted to have the space and resources to be able to beautify their school and you can feel their enthusiasm and passion when they show you around...

(it's about 3.20 minutes into the clip here...

There's not much information around about how they started the garden or how they have made it so beautiful- as far as I can google they have had support from Food and Trees for Africa - a South African based organisation that embrace best practices in sustainable environmental activities that empower poor communities while also playing an important role in reducing carbon emissions- truly inspiring!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Africa Calling

The continuing story of Gemma and The School of St Jude is being aired on Australian Story this Monday, June 8th. You can watch a preview of the half hour story here.

If you are unaware of the work of Gemma Sisia, Gemma opened what once was a small school in Northern Tanzania with the help of her friends, family and her local Rotary Club. It started with a handful of students and is now thriving with 1151 students, 130 teachers and 200 staff. Read more about Gemma and this amazing success story which is The School of St Jude by visiting the website.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Tools to End Poverty

We love sharing great organisations with you all and here is a fab one. Kickstart is a not for profit organisation that develops and markets new technologies in Africa. The low-cost technologies are bought by local entrepreneurs to create profitable small scale businesses.

We visited their offices when were in Kisumu to see how their MoneyMaker irrigation pumps worked.  As you can see we had to give it a test run! 

Over 60 000 people in Kenya, Tanzania and Mali are running profitable businesses using these pumps. This is a great video which features co-founder Martin Fisher, the Kickstart team and the MoneyMaker pump in action. 

Another great product that we were looking into was the stabilised soil block press. Affordable shelter will always be in demand and this press provides a solution. There are plenty of other technologies to check out on the website such as cooking oil technologies and lots more. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Pennies per hour per pleasure is an initiative being run by Medecins San Frontieres. A b+c friend is championing this unique knitting project. All money raised goes to MSF, an extremely worthwhile organisation. You can read about our friend, Lou who is featured this week knitting in Egypt by visiting the p/hop blog!

The idea of p/hop is to donate based on how many hours of pleasure you get from knitting your free pattern, which have been generously donated by designers. There is no set price to a pattern - you can give as much or as little as you like! 

We wish the p/hop team all the best in their attendance at their upcoming festivals. For those who are keen to jump on board do sign up - the world needs more knitters and MSF needs your support so they can continue to provide medical aid to those who need it most! 

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The main aim of Architecture Sans Frontieres - UK is to make global agenda issues, in particular those impacting on disadvantaged and vulnerable people, integral to the practice and teaching of architecture.
b+c is attending the Governance in Practice Workshop next week held by ASF-UK and Practical Action. We feel it is really important to continue our education so that the communities we support can benefit from the sharing of knowledge from organisations with a wealth of experience. This will assist us to be more effective in the empowerment of communities and to better understand issues surrounding participation and planning.

We will make sure we report back so that we can share our findings with you all also!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

BSF + The Sorrell Foundation

The Building Schools for the Future programme will see every state secondary school in the UK, a total of 3500, rebuilt or remodelled during the lifetime of the programme. Launched by the Department for Education & Skills in February 2004, BSF is the largest and most ambitious scheme of its kind anywhere in the world. It will transform education for some 3.3 million students aged 11-19.

The programme aims to create learning environments which inspire young people, provide teachers with 21st century workplaces and provide community facilities.

The Sorrell Foundation is one organisation that is working with school children to design their school of the future. The Foundation was set up in 1999 with the aim of inspiring creativity in young people and improving the quality of life through design. 

The following is a list of common issues that students have identified in workshops held over 7 years. 

A great organisation doing fantastic stuff. Take a look at their website to see their other programmes. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sydney Writers Festival - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There was a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald this weekend about Nigerian born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Adiche is opening the Sydney Writers Festival in May and it sounds like it would be worth going along if you can make it.

I had never heard about this woman or her books before and she sounds like an inspiring, interesting, strong and intelligent woman. I'm hanging out for my turn to read this book.

where the wild things are

This was one of my favorite books as a child. I always found it so delightfully scary. The movie is coming out soon and the stills are beautiful....

I just watched the preview and i think it's looking like a winner. I'm looking forward to seeing it!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Walk for Stuart

Friends of the b+c team are taking on a massive challenge this month. Isabel and Vanessa are heading off to walk the 788km of the Camino de Santiago trail in aid of the Stuart Mangan Appeal

Stuart, in april 2008, due to a simple rugby tackle was completely paralysed from the neck down. Stuart will require 24 hour care for the rest of their life. You can show your support for these two adventurers by giving generously to this extremely worthwhile cause by visiting here. They have already raised a staggering 4000 euros! Go girls!

Make sure you visit their blog to keep up to date on how they are progressing. It is bound to be full of hilarity and no doubt a lot of heartache. 

We wish them all the best on their journey and can't wait to see them back home safely!

Monday, April 27, 2009

ANZAC biscuits

This lovely photo is from Pia's blog. Her friend brought her these ANZAC biscuits right to her door on ANZAC day. There were also ANZAC biscuits being baked in my house on Saturday, and although I didn't take a photo of them they were delicious. Good baking Amber!

2009 open architecture challenge: classroom

The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge is to design the classroom of the future. This competition in collaboration with Architecture for Humanity and Orient Global is asking teachers, students, architects and designers to get involved and to design a classroom for a school of your choosing.

According to the World Bank, educating all children worldwide will require the construction of 10 million new classrooms in more than 100 countries by 2015. This is a global competition and is a great opportunity to come up with some excellent classroom designs. So get involved if you can, we are!

Below are 2 images of the Kutamba AIDS Orphan School in Uganda, which is just one of the examples of some beautiful and inspiring Architecture on the Open Architecture Network.

Friday, April 24, 2009

world malaria day

Each 30 seconds, a child dies from malaria. Each of these deaths is avoidable. Join the world’s largest international effort to end malaria deaths. The countdown has begun.

25 April is a day of unified commemoration of the global effort to provide effective control of malaria around the world. This year's World Malaria Day marks a critical moment in time. The international malaria community has merely two years to meet the 2010 targets of delivering effective and affordable protection and treatment to all people at risk of malaria, as called for by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

The next two years present a rare window of opportunity to save a million lives by rapidly delivering malaria interventions - protective nets, diagnostic tests, antimalarial drugs and indoors spraying - to all people at risk of the disease and to pave the way towards virtually ending deaths by 2015.

This is also an interesting and tragic story of Briton Harry Yirrel who was volunteering in Ghana.  For all of us fortunate enough to be travelling in endemic areas there could not be a more compelling and convincing reminder to take your malaria prophylactics...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I met the Walrus

To continue with the peace theme... this is another goodie. You can read more about Jerry Levitan's interview with John Lennon at I met the Walrus.

What a message, not to mention the brilliant animations!

one love

Hey there, check this out! 
You can read more about the foundation behind this initiative and see the making of the documentary at 'Playing for Change: Peace Through Music

One love people!  

Friday, April 3, 2009

little orphans

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was established in 1977 in honour of David Sheldrick, famous naturalist and warden of Kenya's Tsavo National Park. Since it's opening it has played a significant role in Kenya's conservation efforts.

We visited the orphanage when we were in Nairobi and oh my, the elephants were the sweetest things! The orphaned elephants and rhinos are rescued for varying reasons and then ultimately released back into the wild. 

Their latest arrival is Bhaawaa who became hopelessly bogged in the mud of a drying waterhole... you can foster one of these little ones and assist in the conservation of the African elephant and give these amazing animals a future! 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April - already!

It's April and we have been a bit light on the posts this year... so this is just a little reminder for us and everyone else that we are back and will be blogging and getting back into the swing of things as often as we can.
So here's to a great 2009, better late than never! Found this here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

earth hour 09

Yes it's that time again, Earth Hour is on this Saturday the 28th March. Since Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 the message has swept the globe. 50 million people switched off last year, the goal for 2009 is 1 billion! 

By visiting the website you can show your support by signing up, whether you are an individual, school, organisation or business. 

VOTE EARTH, not global warming - come on people, switch off those lights!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

in praise of process

bricks + cartwheels has been invited to participate in this exciting exhibition. The opening is this Friday 27th March at 6-8pm at the Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. There is an amazing list of Architects showcasing their work/process and b+c is honoured to be a part of it! 

It is to be opened by Bob Carr, so make sure you pop in, if not on Friday then you will get a chance as it is showing until April 18th!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Art of Architecture

There is a fantastic collection of Le Corbusier works currently showing at the Barbican. It is an amazing collection of original models, interior reconstructions, drawings, furniture, paintings and sculptures. His ideas of social housing and utopian urban plans still resonate today. Working your way through the exhibition, you can see why he is dubbed the most influential architect of the 20th century!