Architects don't do a lot of pro bono work for community groups in Australia, and few would consider it an integral part of their practice. People cite concerns about liability, loose scopes of work, uncertain time farmes, not to mention office profitability. Yet the legal and medical professions have been involved in pro bono work for decades.
Seeking a way to increase the importance of Pro Bono to built environment professionals, Architects For Peace* last night launched a referral service to match requests for assistance from non-profit organisations with a list of suitable member architects. Contracts and forms of agreement have been developed with Clayton Utz lawyers (working pro bono).
The service is modelled on local groups like the Public Interest Law Clearing House ( http://www.pilch.org.au/
) and the American organisation Public Architecture ( http://www.publicarchitecture.org/
An assessment panel has been formed in Melbourne and will be actively promoting the service to the architectural profession in the coming months. Initial projects include the reinvention of a carpark at the Collingwood Housing Estate, and a community centre in Bacau, East Timor.
PRO BONO SERVICE
* I am a member of Arch-Peace and have been involved in the pro bono service set up.