We are excited to announce the participation of our codirector Carmen Mendoza Arroyo as a speaker at the 8th International Conference on Building Resilience in Lisbon November 14-16, where she will also be a jury member of the Marielle Franco Community Design award.

Carmen’s talk, titled Creating social and spatial integration frameworks: Overcoming the emergency approach to urban refugee reception models will focus on new approaches to refugee integration in cities. The refugee camp model, she says, is unsustainable, and questions whether by improving and upgrading them architects and designers aren’t just helping to maintain and perpetuate their state of exception, and contributing to governments and policies that sustain them.

“We cannot accept these places as forms of urbanization, but on the contrary, work towards creating social and spatial integration frameworks which intend to look for the urban integration of refugees in their host countries.”

From the abstract:

There is a need to integrate refugees in a sustainable way that prevents conflicts and the perception of them as an economic and social burden, and that gives a voice to all stakeholders in the refugee integration process. Likewise, it is important to avoid the creation of new marginal spaces where hosting refugees would imply the creation of ghettos. A shift in urban governance and planning must be developed from  traditional urban planning, mostly related to the top-down and long term normative framing of land use, to raising awareness of a more adaptive approach about land use regulations which should be flexible in order to respond to immediate stresses (forced migration, refugees,etc.).  From a physical integration perspective, urban refugees need to connect to the neighborhood and create an identity within this new urban place. Proper access to resources is a key factor for refugees to benefit from public services and get assistance through integration programs. Likewise, adaptive reuse of existing buildings allows to ensure connectivity to the existing social facilities and commercial activities, all which can similarly enhance cultural and economic integration. Accordingly, we can say that adaptive reuse of existing buildings can be a means to promote greater social equity within an urban place, as opposed to new housing built away from any urban fabric.

At the conference, Carmen will also be a jury member of the Building 4Humanity Resilient Design Competition and the Marielle Franco Community-Design Award, which seeks “to reward and recognize the day-to-day activity of architects immersed in interdisciplinary teams working within slums or other deprived and high-vulnerability areas.” The prize is named after the Brazilian pacifist, human-rights champion, black-women activist, former favela resident, the sociologist and elected city councillor Marielle Franco, recently killed in the streets of Rio de Janeiro in a cold and calculated murder that shocked the world.

Visit the website for more info.

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