Dean Landy is a partner in Melbourne architecture firm, ClarkeHopkinsClarke (CHC), as well as the founder and director of the One Heart Foundation, a not for profit organisation working to alleviate poverty in Africa.

He is currently preparing for the One Heart Foundation’s inaugural major ‘ Run from Poverty’ to be held in July 2015, with 100 per cent of all funds raised through the event used to construct more classrooms, children’s homes and farming initiatives that generate an income to sustain the children’s village which was established by the One Heart Foundation in Turbo, Eldoret, Kenya in 2012.

We speak to Landy to find out more about the event, what it will achieve, and how people can get involved.

Tell us more about yourself

Beyond just architecture and good urban design in the built form, I am passionate about building strong and vibrant communities and improving the lives of other people through my work. My role as an architect, combined with my voluntary role helping children and building a community in Kenya, brings together all of the things I think are important in life.

Right now I am focused on spreading the word and inviting companies to get involved in the incredible opportunity ‘ Run from Poverty’ provides for making a significant difference in the lives of orphaned children living on the streets of Africa. The event will be held in Kenya 19 th-28th of July, 2015.

Regarding my professional work, with over 13 years’ experience as a registered architect, I’m predominantly involved in the planning and design of Retail & Mixed Use projects, Multi-Residential, Commercial and Community Infrastructure projects. My work stitches together a strong design aesthetic, good buildabilty, and integrated Environmentally Sustainable Design principles together with a focus on how the end user is going to use and interact with the spaces created.

I began work at CHC in 1998 during my ‘year out’ when it was a practice of only 12 people, and I could see there was a lot of potential for me to grow with the practice. Today there are 65 people and the practice has been established for nearly 55 years.

In 2009 I received the ARBV Award for Architectural Services, a client nominated Award based on excellence in the design process. As a result, in 2011 I became an examiner for the ARBV Registration Board, assessing prospective architect’s registration applications for practice in Victoria.

Running parallel to my architecture studies while I was on exchange at the University of Nottingham in 1997, I volunteered with a young team do maintenance work at a tribal hospital in the Himalayan region of India. It was an eye opening experience for me and has changed my life. I now understand the difference all professionals can make in impoverished communities around the world. That's how One Heart was born.

What is Run from Poverty about, and why did you decide to organise it?

I am organising Run from Poverty because I see a need, and I know I can make a difference. From my perspective I’ve had the privilege, and benefit, of seeing the polarity between two worlds – one of poverty and desperation for basic human need that I see orphaned children dying from in places like Kenya and the second, as a design professional in a western nation. I have the ability to help shape new communities both here and abroad, and now I want to share this experience with other professionals.

Being part of both of these worlds makes anyone involved more well-rounded as we are forced to take our eyes off ourselves for a while and consider what we can do to change the lives of those less fortunate. Through Run from Poverty, I’m trying to offer personal value to those companies and individuals that are getting involved, while also raising funds to construct the homes and schools needed to transform the lives of children. Run from Poverty demonstrates that with some sacrifice we can create endless positive change that will effect generations.

Did you know that according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty? That's over eight million children needlessly dying each year out of the eye of the Western media. For me, rather than be overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, I am inspired by the fact that I can help change the world for hundreds of children through the work that One Heart Foundation is doing in Kenya. And I believe this is just the beginning.

As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, ClarkeHopkinsClarke are sponsoring two staff members to take part in Run from Poverty, as we know it will be an invaluable leadership development experience for them. As a practice with a strong focus on the design of education facilities in Australia, it was an obvious connection for us to fundraise to construct more classrooms in Kenya through One Heart Foundation, as we know that education is the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

We would encourage other companies to consider supporting One Heart Foundation and Run from Poverty in the same way. Invest in your staff, and contribute to addressing global poverty.

Run from Poverty is for anyone that wants to make a difference in the world around them and is open to anyone with any running ability…it will truly be a life changing experience. Over 10 days, we will:

  • be based in the world famous high altitude training camps of Iten, Kenya;
  • train with current Olympic and world record holders, including World Athlete of the Year David Rudisha;
  • work in the community and be faced with the reality of poverty;
  • experience world class leadership and personal development sessions to develop you as an individual;
  • Run as a guest of honour at the first 'One Heart - Run from Poverty' which will be a major cross-country event in Kenya attracting more than 1,000 participants, running either 5, 10 or 15km and finishing at the One Heart Village for its official opening.
  • finish off with a Safari to round it out, as no trip to Africa would be complete without a Safari!

How can architects get involved in Run from Poverty? Why should they get involved?

More information is available at our website including details about fundraising. Also you can contact us at [email protected]. You can register now and secure your position with a $500 deposit per person. Why not get a team together and, through your fundraising contribution, you could have naming rights on a new home or school facility in Kenya!

More broadly, what do you think the role of architects is in less fortunate communities, both in Australia and around the world?

I think architects and urban designers play a pivotal role both here and around the world because we have a part to play in how to address social problems and provide the creative link between government and industry.

We have a responsibility to ensure the places we are designing can truly build stronger communities, eg. building health and wellness considerations into an entire masterplan, not just considering the built form.

As professionals, in general, we all have a responsibility to realise that we live in the “lucky country”. I feel a responsibility to share the privileges we have living in Australia with those people who don’t have the government support that we do. By having a more global view, we can all make a difference in communities where many are forced to live on the street.

For me there are few things in life as satisfying as sitting with an orphaned child, abandoned to the streets of Africa, knowing that I can do something to transform their world… then doing it. It puts our lives into perspective.