About “Architecture for Development”

by David Week on 27 April 2010

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Why this blog

Below, I’ve pasted my professional “about” blurb from my CV, written in some version of bureaucratese. It serves as a potted history of my professional life, and provides some insight, I guess, into my professional persona.

But I’m not blogging to further my professional career, which is doing just fine. Here are the reasons behind this blog:

  • Over the years, you accumulate a body of knowledge. I like sharing knowledge. This is my way of doing it.
  • Projects provide amazing opportunities to encounter hard but worthwhile problems, and to work them through with talented with talented people from completely different professions, worldviews and cultures (and I include local villagers in that description.) But all this happens inside the box called “development”. Development also raises questions, and this blog is my chance to talk about the questions that arise outside the box.
  • I keep on telling myself that I want to write a book. One of my favourite quotes about writing is this one, from one George Fowler:

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

  • My experience parallels George’s. On the other hand, I probably write three novels worth of text per year to friends and listservs, because I enjoy written dialogue much more than that blood-sweat-inducing monologue. So this blog is also a way of ramping up to a book, by writing in at least imagined dialogue with an audience (or perhaps dialogue with an imagined audience.) If it turns into real dialogue, with a real audience: I’ll be rapt.
  • I often talk to architects who want to become involved in international development. That’s great. This blog is a way of avoiding repetition.
  • I think writing is important. Projects are, basically, one-to-one work. They have limited reach. Writing is one to many, and I think every professional career needs both.

From my CV

David Week has thirty years experience in overseas development assistance in the Asia-Pacific region, and now in Africa. He started with a focus on social infrastructure, has developed cross-sectoral expertise in strategic planning, program and project design and management, and M&E in justice, health, education and community development. His PhD focused on how professionals need to change the way they think and work to succeed interculturally. He has worked for multilaterals, bilaterals, contractors, NGOs and national and subnational governments; has managed an NGO and a consulting company; and has worked both long term, in the field, and short term, as project director, reviewer, evaluator, and adviser.

In the first part of his career, from 1978 to 1985, David co-founded an co-managed a Papua New Guinean NGO: the Community Based Building Program. Operating as a social enterprise, the CBBP assisted communities, NGOs, and provincial and national government to build new facilities in ways that maximised continuity of PNG building knowledge and tradition, and mobilised and strengthened local human and material resource bases.

In the second phase of his career, from 1985 to 2000, David continued to work on projects in PNG, but—now based in Sydney—he extended his work to includethe design and implementation of activities for AusAID and the World Bank, the planning and design of strategies, programs and facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander communities, the organisation of corporate workplaces based on organisational culture, and assisted resource companies to fulfil their community obligations.

For the last ten years, David has worked at the strategic and systemic level, looking at how to improve institutional and private sector capacity to implement planning and building projects, re-organise for greater effectiveness and efficiency. Because infrastructure touches on all sectors, and because he has worked at the strategic and systemic levels, he has developed a sound working knowledge of issues and strategies in education, health, local governance, justice and rural development. He has contributed to broader social aims of these other sectors through the disciplines drawn from the infrastructure sector, which emphasise measureable results, time, quality, and fitness-for-purpose.

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