The primary purpose of architecture is to provide shelter for mankind. NGOs working in the housing sector are on a mission to make that a reality for each and every person. 

The diverse approaches and methodologies are inspired by people who are looking to give back to society. Though the task is an uphill challenge, the intent and perseverance are shown to usher a new age in the years to come.

1. Habitat Technology Group

Founded in 1987 by architect G Shankar, the Habitat Technology group is now the largest NGO in South Asia that provides shelter to the less fortunate. Since its inception in Kerala, India, the organisation has completed large scale projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Haiti, Palestine and Nepal.

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Earthy materials used for buildings ©Habitat Technology group

The NGO specialises in developing energy-efficient buildings at low costs while catering to the specific needs of the area. Disaster Resistant architecture, the use of earthy materials, bamboo and renewable sources of energy for construction are amongst the many features synonymous with their work.

2. La Voûte Nubienne

La Voûte Nubienne is an African based NGO that is dedicated, to providing affordable housing, to the impoverished sector of African Nations.

The NGO revives the Nubian Vault (NV) technical concept, which is an ancient architectural discipline that uses sustainable adobe bricks and mortar to craft buildings that are resistant to wind and rain. Besides performing well, these structures are cost-effective since they don’t need steel or concrete for their execution.

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Nubian Vault ©La Voûte Nubienne

La Voûte Nubienne believes in empowering the people, so they teach the locals how to construct these structures, thus helping the socio-economic conditions of any given area.  

3. Ukumbi

Ukumbi is an initiative by Hollmen Reuter Sandman Architects, to provide housing for disadvantaged communities. 

Though the NGO was established in Finland, the organisation works on projects mainly in Africa. The NGO’s name “Ukumbi” is in Swahili, an African language that refers to a meeting place.

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Sustainable structure in Africa ©Ukumbi

As a social cause, the organisation backs women, children and elders by providing them with facilities within their communities. 

The organisation’s belief in cultural integrity makes each structure exclusive to that area. This versatile approach involves the use of local materials, craftsmanship and unskilled labour to create an original project that related to its surroundings.

4. World Habitat

World Habitat is an international charity organisation that is recognised by the United Nations. Moreover, a partnership between the United Nation Habitat enterprises has been pivotal in the success of this organisation.

Initiated in 1946 after the Second World War, the company was started by homeless ex-servicemen who were determined to make a difference. 

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Innovative affordable housing ©World Habitat

Today, the organisation functions at a global level, providing housing for the underprivileged and disaster-stricken areas. 

The organisation understands its limitations and readily collaborates with local authorities and organisations. Through its extensive networking, the organisation finds ways to help societies with people who understand the context.

5. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organisation that provides shelters through their varied expertise.

Apart from building shelters from scratch, the organisation works on renovating dilapidated houses for families. This niche requirement of helping out people whose houses are in a poor state is fundamentally an energy-saving endeavour.

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 Through varied expertise, the enhancement of homes improves the standard of living within a neighbourhood. Additionally, this affordable housing solution is constructed, with a suitable mortgage for families to sustain themselves.

6. Nivasa

Primarily a housing NGO that works across India, the company focuses on construction, architectural interventions and material studies.

For Nivasa, the name of the game is “innovation”. The organisation focuses on solution-driven designs in urban and rural contexts to provide the best possible outcome.

Suitcase Manchenahalli ©Nivasa

Apart from local materials and labour, the longevity of their work is noteworthy. 

For example, Project Suitcase focused on providing portable homes for slum dwellers in the urban context of Bangalore city. These homes can be reassembled, with relative ease providing a flexible and tasteful solution to an increasing issue. 

7. Mission Australia

Mission Australia’s belief that every family has a right to affordable housing is audacious.

The NGO provides a holistic approach to helping people beyond the realm of housing. Ensuring jobs for younger people so that they can actually afford a house—is another priority that the organisation takes on itself.

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Reinvigorated community ©Mission Australia

The empowerment of the people to help themselves involves working with the government at all levels. Government funds, tendering contracts are all parts of the parcel that make this initiative so successful.

8. Build Change

Build Change clinically deals with disaster-prone areas. Seismic zones, hurricane-prone areas, and even areas susceptible to landslides and avalanches come under the wing of Build Change. 

The organisation partners with governments to provide lucrative housing solutions that can effectively tackle disaster if and when they occur.

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Disaster-resistant structure in Nepal ©Build Change

Empowering the people to overlook the restoration of their houses while chipping in however they like is an integral part of the organisation’s policy. Local materials and expertise are comprehensively studied and applied during the remaking of the houses. This helps in retaining the cultural aspect of the homes while providing a safe place to live.

9. Build Abroad

Founders Pat Mc Loughlin and Chad Johnson are both architects with extensive knowledge of volunteering. They acquired the necessary skill set required to start their own initiative- Build Abroad in 2010.

The organisation provides a viable platform for people in the architectural and construction field to give back to society.

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Community building a structure ©Build Abroad

With projects across the globe in countries like Peru, Haiti and Nepal, the organisation attracts developers from even developed countries to help out. This intriguing philosophy is backed with a massive in-house team all laser-focused in coming up with housing solutions that best serve that area.

10. Emergency Architecture & Human Rights (EAHR)

As the name suggests, the focus of the organisation is on completing humanitarian missions. 

Areas suffering from discrimination of any sort are the targets of this tenacious NGO. Empowering them by teaching them how to build their own homes is just one of the many extents that EAHR is willing to go, too.

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Shelter for children in Syrian Refugee Camp ©Emergency Architecture & Human Rights (EAHR)

 The organisation integrates communities in the decision taken to help their communities. This extreme sensitivity prevents the marginalisation of the people as they look to promote the freedom of the mind.


Kunal is a charismatic individual, with a passion for food, travel and of course writing. His thirst for new experiences has helped him develop diverse portfolio of talents. He has worked with NGO’s pertaining to animals, children, and rural development while working as an architect for large corporations.


  1. Very innovative and thought provoking approaches.Our college,K.S.School of Architecture, has had the privilege of collaborating with Nivasa for our design studio projects

  2. Nivasa :What a great achievement!! Akhila’s passion for innovation is matched by perseverance and total commitment. Many of us who have known Nivasa and Akhila are indeed very proud of her achievement and well deserved recognition she has received.

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