Architecture Program


Date of this Version

Spring 5-4-2012


"This is the real news of our century. It is highly feasible to take care of all of humanity at a higher standard of living than anybody has ever experienced or dreamt of. To do so without having anybody profit at the expense of another, so that everybody can enjoy the whole earth. And it can all be done by 1985." -Buckminster Fuller, 1971

41 years later, we still have people living in abject poverty, forced into situations where the politics of displacement actively prevent them from improving their living situation. For an organization that puts out a "Handbook for Emergencies," the United Nations does a terrible job at following it in their design of their camps. These are always intended to be something temporary, a simple response to an emergency which can hold refugees until they are free to return to their homes. However, the average refugee camp now lasts longer than seven years, and there are camps in West Bengal which have been in existence for over 65. Camps near Dadaab, Kenya that were built to hold only 60,000 people have swelled to over 450,000 today.

These victims of displacement are now trapped in a system that forces substandard living conditions upon them. The cause of this widespread forced poverty lies squarely within the design of the camp settings themselves.

As designers, what can we do when this impermanence becomes permanent?

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