Andrea Bolnick is a social entrepreneur and an experienced urbanist. She has a keen interest in spatial injustice and efforts to reverse it.
Although not formally trained as an architect or planner, she has worked alongside numerous architects and thinks spatially, marrying sociological training with a practical ability to innovate. Her greatest learning however has come from more than 20 years of experience working, designing, and implementing programs with organizations of the urban poor.
Andy has consistently anticipated developmental trends before they have materialized. She has pioneered the design of fire and flood resistant informal shelters that are quick to build, durable and affordable. She has been a driving force behind the implementation of reblocking: a participative design intervention that couples innovative shelter solutions with spatial reconfiguration. This initiative has influenced the state and has led to changes in policy and impacts on urban poor communities. Andy has also been the cocreator of the Empowershack project, which has received international acclaim.
She is currently designing systems to leverage resources from households and medium-sized companies to bridge the finance gap and contribute to improved housing for their employees. She also engages government around rapid shack upgrading as an immediate solution leading incrementally to formal housing. All her work is predicated on the central participation of the communities themselves.
Andy is an Ashoka Fellow. She was a runner-up in the FT/Citi Ingenuity awards in 2013 and co-winner of a Serious Games Competition in 2017.