University of Minnesota

April 11 Ensia Live presents Peter Williams on health and home

London- and New York–based architect, social entrepreneur and humanitarian to offer unique insights into the links among housing design, development and disease around the world

April 2, 2013

Media note: For press passes, contact Mary Hoff at or (612) 626-2670

What does housing have to do with health? Everything in the world, says architect, social entrepreneur and humanitarian Peter Williams – who is working everywhere in the world to boost both health and sustainable housing through Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE). Williams will bring his vision for a healthier, better-designed world to the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis as the grand finale speaker in the Ensia Live event series April 11, 7:30 p.m. The series is presented by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Williams will offer unique insights into the complex and compelling links between housing design and health on five continents and discuss how a greater appreciation of architecture’s role in human well-being could transform the world.  As 60 million people move into cities each year in developing countries, he says, we need to think in an entirely new way about design, development and disease. Using stunning visuals and personal stories, he will take the audience on a tour of the globe from Nigeria to India, Cameroon to Jamaica — and points in between — as he explores this 21st century challenge in a way that refuses to consider living conditions and human health separately, arguing instead for a systemic approach.

"Housing can be a major vehicle for curbing the risk of contracting diseases and therefore the mortality for some of the poorest people on our planet," Williams said in a recent interview with Ensia. "But the extent to which we can render this effective is the extent to which we can, I would argue, move away from this notion of looking at the issues in silos."

Along with Williams’ talk, the evening will offer a performance by visual artist Gregory Euclide and musician S. Carey of Bon Iver.

Based in London and New York, Williams has worked on building projects on five continents and has taught at universities around the world. He holds degrees in African studies and architecture from the University of Oxford and Columbia University, respectively, and a first class honors degree from the City College of New York. He has received numerous awards, including the Kinne Fellowship from Columbia University that led him to form ARCHIVE. He has also been a visiting researcher at the UNAIDS Secretariat in South Africa and has worked for the World Bank. In 2009 he was named among the 22 best emerging social entrepreneurs in the world by Echoing Green, and in 2011 he was recognized as one of Britain’s "40 under 40 International Development Leaders" by Devex. His work has been featured by major media outlets, including BBC World, ABC, CBS, NPR, the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal.

The April 11 event, made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Minnesota Public Radio and others, is the third of three environment-themed evenings hosted by Ensia. The first, a presentation on "Bots, Bacteria and Carbon" by futurist Jamais Cascio, is now available for viewing online. Global sustainability expert Peggy Liu’s talk, the second in the series, will be viewable soon at

The Institute on the Environment seeks lasting solutions to Earth's biggest challenges through research, partnerships and leadership development. For more information, visit

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