If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture. - Oscar Wilde
Architecture is human. Despite their exquisite beauty, burrows, hives, nests and anthills are creations of instinct. Design by humans considers options, means and methods of creation, solving problems of desire, beyond functional accommodations.
Italian architecture practice Spacelab designed an energy self-sufficient shelter for temporary use, a parametric project that can be built without foundations on any site, leaving no trace and no damage to the site at the end of its life cycle. Named Zero in reference to the lack of waste during construction or removal and its zero-emissions operation, the structure can be demounted and reassembled multiple times, tapping into issues of circular economy, impermanence and reuse.
There is an architecture of the migrant. It is survivalist, built with what is available, made as quickly as possible, with safety as its core value. Americans romanticize that architecture as “Colonial”: simple timber buildings, with symmetric beginnings, infinite additions, and adaptations. But “Colonial” architecture is not what was built first by the immigrants to a fully foreign land 400 years ago. Like all migrant housing, time made it temporary and forgotten.
The inertia of politics and governance in a time when major societal changes occur at an increasingly faster pace and the dissatisfaction with the decision process makes room for bottom-up actions, activism and bold endeavours. In the light of so many examples of social activism, do architects have the tools to make their own stand? Does architecture have the power to disrupt the status quo?
While damage control and preparation is an ever increasing factor in how we plan our cities, certain extraordinary circumstances, like natural disasters, remain outside of our ability to plan and demand quick architectural responses that offer instant aid to the people affected, often being the difference between life and death. Natural, unpredictable events like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, armed conflicts, territory disputes, or global crises--such as climate change or pandemics--require immediate action in order to mitigate ensuing damage and chaos. Emergency architecture is the immediate answer to the humanitarian side of a conflict, covering everything from housing to medical facilities for the affected.
Throughout human history, the movement of populations–in search of food, shelter, or better economic opportunities–has been the norm rather than the exception. Today, however, the world is witnessing unprecedented levels of displacement. The United Nations reports that 68.5 million people are currently displaced from their homes; this includes nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of eighteen. With conflicts raging on in countries like Syria and Myanmar, and climate change set to lead to increased sea levels and crop failures, the crisis is increasingly being recognised as one of the foundational challenges of the twenty-first century.
While emergency housing has dominated the discourse surrounding displacement in the architecture industry, it is critical for architects and planners to study and respond to the socio-cultural ramifications of population movements. How do we build cities that are adaptive to the holistic needs of fluid populations? How do we ensure that our communities absorb refugees and migrants into their local social fabric?
This World Refugee Day, let’s take a look at 5 shining examples of social infrastructure from around the world–schools, hospitals, and community spaces–that are specifically directed at serving displaced populations.
Land Art Generator Initiative and Burning Man Project have partnered to launch a multi-disciplinary design challenge—LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch—that will create the foundational infrastructure of Fly Ranch. The project is open to everyone everywhere and seeks creative solutions to systems of energy, water, food, shelter, and regeneration. You are invited to propose your regenerative artwork in this unique and stunning landscape. In 2021 selected design teams will be provided with an honorarium grant for the purpose of building a functional prototype on site.
INTRODUCTION 7.2%... is the number of Europeans that won’t be in contact, not even once a year, with friends or loved ones. This percentage is even greater in France, 12%. Human beings are meant to interact with one another and that is why there are so many examples of communities throughout our different societies and throughout history. Solitude is at the root of many different health issues: stroke, myocardial infarction, cancer and depression. Scientific studies have shown that these different diseases are
Architects are called upon to build society’s greatest structures. We marvel at the museums, performing arts centers and spaces of worship that dot the globe and represent the peculiarities of the world’s many cultures. Yet, at the core of the roles and responsibilities of the architect lies a calling for a far more elemental human need: shelter.
This doesn’t imply that architects are always involved in the creation of all the forms that shelter takes. However, a deep understanding of how people dwell provides an appreciation of the diversity, resilience, alacrity of the human race. The Human Shelter, a documentary about what people value or “need” in their lives, ties into a fundamental quality that any architect would be foolish not to cultivate: the ability to listen and perceive what makes people feel at home.
Reinterpreting the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, North Face have announced the latest tent in their collection; a geodesic dome tent. Thanks to the most spatially efficient shape in architecture, it can withstand winds of up to 60 mph as the force is spread evenly across the structure whilst even providing enough height for a six-foot person to stand comfortably inside.
The extremely efficient design has allowed the tent to weigh not much more than 11kg and comprise of 5 main poles and the equator for fast and easy assembly and storage. The outdoor gear company has also considered a water-resistant dual-layered exterior skin for their incredibly strong and sturdy tent to endure whatever mother nature has to throw at it.
Christian Weber, a 20-plus year veteran of the Burning Man festival has learned a few tricks on the Playa. Shelter from the harsh Black Rock Desert winds, heat, dust and cold nights are attributes of an experienced camp. “Every year we unload our camp out of the container and use our container as our kitchen. It literally has fold-down tables [and] air conditioning… and when we’re all done, we throw it back in the container and it’s ready to go for next year.”
Stockholm-based architecture firm Utopia Arkitekter has designed Skýli, they are bright blue cabins that are popping up in one of the world's most beautiful landscape. The idea came from a desire to develop a structure which could be easily placed along some of the most famous trekking trails in Iceland. Not only are the lodges striking and beautiful in itself, they can be easily constructed and are built to withstand the harshest weather conditions.
At an altitude of 3,800 meters, Ice-Age architects have designed and produced a compact and lightweight shelter as the last base before climbers venture up Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe. Inspired by Buckminster Fuller's 2V geodesic dome, it can sleep up to 16 people as they acclimatize to the altitude and wait for the appropriate weather for the climb.
Bee Breeders have selected winners of the Stone Barn Meditation Camp competition, seeking to create a place of refuge for individuals amidst the pristine natural beauty of one of Latvia’s most remote regions. In announcing the competition results, the jury applauded the respect and regard shown to the environment by submitted schemes, commenting that the most successful projects stood out for their simplicity, elegance, and balance with nature.
Costa Rican architect César Oreamuno has designed a modular capsule that accommodates to the basic needs of a community after a state of emergency or disaster. The units are adaptable and easily assembled in order to account for a variety of situations and respond to a series of unique functions, although the main theme of the project is focused on improving the quality of attention towards the basic needs of crisis victims, as well as encouraging the development of the community.
Launched in 2007, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge has quickly gained a reputation for being what Metropolis Magazine once called “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award.” This year, for the first time, a Student Category was reviewed separately from the general applications, however still based upon the same criteria: comprehensiveness, feasibility, replicability, ecological responsibility, and how verifiable and anticipatory the project is. Students from the Centre for Human Habitat and Alternative Technology (CHHAT) claimed the prize with their adaptable and lightweight modular domes, made from natural, local or recycled materials.
In light of recent refugee crises, Belgium-based architecture and engineering firm DMOA has become involved with The Maggie Program, an initiative to improve refugee shelter, education, and health through a new building concept.
Because most countries only allow for temporary settlements for refugees, the project centers around the Maggie Shelter, a temporary tent-like structure, that functions as a more substantial, fixed building.
First-year architecture and urban planning students at the Estonian Academy of Arts have designed and created READER, a shelter based on the concept of removal from daily life, and focusing on oneself. Passers-by are invited to enter the shelter and “escape from the real world of problems into the fictional world of books.” And for those who don’t have a book on hand, the structure is meant to evoke the pages of a book through its ribbed wooden structure.