Helena Sandman is a practising architect and a post. doc. researcher focusing on empathic design and architecture with impact. She sees the work of the architect as a mediating practice and architecture as an empowering tool. She began her practice in Africa two decades ago as a partner in Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects. The group later founded the non-governmental organisation Ukumbi (Architecture Sans Frontier, Finland) to provide architectural services for communities in need. Apart from the work with Ukumbi and her own private architecture company, Helena is a founding partner of Leapfrog Projects — a global strategy and design consultancy focusing on ambitious sustainability initiatives.
Helena’s doctoral thesis “Empathy Matters: Architecture for the world’s majority” was carried out as design research on affordable housing and maternal health and emerged from her work with the trans-disciplinary New Global research project at Aalto University from 2014 to 2020. Helena has been teaching multidisciplinary student teams in project-based upgrading of informal neighbourhoods in Asia and Africa since 2009 and is lecturing regularly worldwide.