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Why pro-bono?

Why pro-bono?

Since the start of Architects for Peace, we have discussed the idea of providing pro-bono services, at home and overseas. We have had sporadic attempts to it and we see the need to structure and consolidate it into a proper service, which can be accessible to non-for profit organisations and community groups.

The reasons for providing these services are many and include:

  • The perceived and real social divide in the use of architectural services
  • The perceived notion that architecture is dispensable and deals only with aesthetics
  • The public's general unawareness of the impact of architecture, urban design and planning in the way we use and live in our cities
  • The reality that urban professional disciplines are responsible for up to 75% of greenhouse gases emissions
  • The need of our arch-peace professionals to assist in the creation of more democratic, fair and better cities for all, wherever we are based
  • The fact that in Australia, we lag behind other professions who see the value of offering their professional services to those who cannot otherwise afford them.
  • The need to realise that these services would provide mutual benefits and that as part of the society we live in, we all suffer or rejoice from urban wellbeing

The pro-bono services will provide options to those who could not otherwise afford them. At the same time, this process will facilitate the promotion of architecture and planning and its discussion in relation to its impact on people, their health and their city. We hope that these services can promote education, participation and assist in finding solutions to our damaged environment.

Arch-peace is now discussing this initiative and the question is how to make it possible. The how may be a difficult one to resolve - but not impossible, given that the objective, we know, is worthwhile.

We would like to invite you to tell us what you think. Your input will help us to address the issues and potential of this initiative: is this important to you? How do you think it could be arranged? Do you know of potential pro-bono clients? Would your firm be interested in providing this service?

(Beatriz C. Maturana)

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Anonymous said...

most of us do pro-bono work, why is it necessary to organise it this way? Participation in architectural competitions could be considered pro-bono, or is it not?

Tom P.

Anonymous said...

maybe some developers should do some pro-bono work.

Beatriz Maturana said...

I agree with the idea that developers should do pro-bono - they have the financial capacity to do it.

For many of us, we already do pro-bono work and this work is addressing some of the pro-bono aims as described before. This is then a way to give it a structure and recognition. It will allow us to do a more tangible work. Although, where do “tangible” starts and ends? Or put it in another way, how tangible is design if we are not the ones laying the bricks?

This initiative will make pro-bono possible for professionals from large or small firms. What is important is that the reasons for pro-bono (as described in the article) are maintained. So it doesn't only become only a vehicle for publicity or tax benefits (which as far as I know won’t be possible), but translates in real benefits for the community and for the professions involved in general.


Beatriz Maturana said...

Pro-bono update:

Architects for Peace is thrilled to announce that PILCH (The Public Interest Law Clearing House – Victoria,, has referred us to Clayton Utz Law firm. Clayton Utz is now undertaking, in our behalf, the legal procedures to make arch-peace’s pro-bono possible. Check the website for updates,

Architects and pro bono

Architects for Peace is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2003 and incorporated in Victoria in 2004. Today, it has groups throughout Australia and overseas. Its members are planners, architects, urban designers, landscape architects, engineers, environmentalists, artists working in the public domain and students, with a common goal of seeking sustainable urban development based on social justice, solidarity, respect and peace.

In 2006, Architects for Peace is investigating the viability of assisting in the restoration of community buildings in Timor Leste and of assisting local Australian non-for-profit organisations with architectural services.

Clayton Utz accepted a referral from PILCH to advise Architects for Peace on the options available to the organisation to best facilitate the provision of pro bono services by its members, taking into consideration potential exposure to professional and public liability insurance issues.

Source: PILCH News, Issue 8 / March 2006,

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