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Architecture for a Change: John, Dirk and Anton are Building a Better World

architecture for a change e4c projects imageJohn Saaiman, Anton Bouwer and Dirk Coetser were struck by the levels of poverty and inadequate housing right in their own city of Johannesburg. As a result, they are working together to build and design low-cost, environmentally-friendly and innovative community and private buildings both within Johannesburg and further afield. Creating solutions to problems is what makes them true entrepreneurs.

How John, Dirk and Anton are Building a Future of Equality

architecture for a change e4c logoThese three young architects turned social entrepreneurs formed the business Architects for a Change because they were moved to do something practical after witnessing severe poverty and inadequate living spaces right on their own doorstep. They focus on designing and constructing private living spaces, community buildings and headquarters for not-for-profit organizations. All of the revenue that is made from their constructions is funneled straight back into their work.

According to the Architects for a Change website, the three architects understand the importance of physical spaces and the role that these spaces play in each of our lives. They are working to create innovative, efficient and pleasant spaces that can be used efficiently in order to make local communities nicer places to be. They have constructed buildings such as a bread-making factory which provides sustainable, local jobs, and a boarding house for a children’s charity where children can live and play together, and learn the importance of family.

About these Entrepreneurs for a Change: John Saaiman, Anton Bouwer and Dick Coetser

architecture for a change e4c founder imageEach of these three architects studied at the University of Johannesburg, where they pursued their interest in architecture, design and construction. The three then used their specialist knowledge to found Architects for a Change and to start construction projects to improve the lives of people within their local community.

John was inspired into action by his encounter with extreme poverty at a very young age. People from the nearby shanty town attempted to burn down the house that John and his parents lived in, and the family had to be evacuated. This highlighted the negative community effects of poor housing and shelter, and is what sparked John’s interest in designing and constructing private and eco-friendly community spaces that could make a positive impact.

The three architects have now worked together on 11 projects, and have received lots of media attention. They have been the subject of news reports, online publications and have spoken at university conferences.


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Chief Evolutionary Officer at Entrepreneurs for a Change
Lorna Li is a business coach, entrepreneur and Amazon rainforest crusader, with a passion for green business, social enterprise, and indigenous wisdom. She helps changemaking entrepreneurs harness the power of the Internet to reach more people and make a bigger impact, while designing the lifestyle of their dreams. She is an Internet marketing consultant to changemakers, and works with innovative tech startups, sustainable brands, social enterprises & B-Corporations on SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing.
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