The ARC-Peace ASF meeting in Copenhagen was a success. Please check the ARC-Peace Newsletter #33 on www.ARC-Peace.org
Members of ARC-Peace and ASF (Architects Sans Frontieres) came from all over the world and talked about their work.
Three topics were addressed:
1. Projects that empower local communities to build much needed buildings.
Here is a sample:
We found the projects by ARC-Peace Peru (Luz Maria Sachez) very inspiring in the first category. Her work truly helps empower the resident women to build their communities from her legal work, to gain the right to the land they occupy, so that they also can get basic infrastructure (roads and utilities) installed by the government to teaching the women to build earthquake safe structures.
Another project that gives people without legal status basic facilities is in Thailand by (Graeme Bristol, ARC-Peace and Center for Architecture and Human rights Canada and Thailand). Migrant workers that have no rights to standard public schools because of their migrant status have been taking their children to the construction sites where there are no facilities or schools for them. By building movable schools/community centers for the children these children get basic schooling and the community a place to be. Given the long hours that the parents work, they are still looking for help for taking care of the children during the hours before and after the school schedule when the parents are at work.
In Venezuela and other Latin American countries there are no facilities for teenage boys and young men who don’t have work. This can lead to gang activities that are destructive to society. …. Of Urban Think Tank from Switzerland has developed several projects that are vertical athletic centers located in the very dense shanty towns. These centers attract the young men, keeping them focused on structured and constructive activities.
2. The ethical questions for Architects
The role of Architects in providing healthy and safe environments includes the choices we make in the materials we specify (Tom Woolley, UK).
For Oscar, social responsibility is essential in man’s condition in a sustainable society where many times “I” means “we” and vice versa (Oscar Margenet Nadal, ARC-Peace Spain).
Urban planning is used as a tool of repression and ethical cleansing (Øystein Grönning). The Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem is under siege. Occupied houses are being demolished in the middle of the night in this area by demolition contractors hired and protected by Israel. The situation has developed to such a heightened conflict that peace looks like a very remote possibility. What can Architects do to prevent this? Refusal to be part of the planning process that leads to this taking of peoples land is a good start.
An enlightening talk described the struggle they encountered with the financing NGO, Caritas, that owned the home that they were working on, because this ASF group insisted on trying to create a safe environment for the 40 children orphanage. Caritas ended up attacking ASF in court and after a prolonged expensive court case, ASF won the case. But they do not know what happened to the children the orphanage was supposed to be for (Peter Burk, ASF Germany).
A number of interesting talks about disaster management show how much has been learnt in recent years. More to follow on this subject.