It is always a great joy to welcome back our alumni as guest professors to teach our students and last week Dr Nerea Amorós Elorduy joined us to talk about Urban Refugees and the African Continent. Nerea Amorós graduated from our program in 2011 and went on to work with UNICEF Rwanda developing the building standards for new early childhood development centres. She obtained a PhD from the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL about Architecture as a tool for young children learning in Eastern Africa’s protracted refugee encampments, and founded the interdisciplinary studio Creative Assemblages in Kampala, Uganda. Last year, she received the 2020 Alumni Awards in the category for Best Social Transformation Project for her project Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) in Rwanda.

The course focuses on understanding the multiple and complex roles the built environment plays with regard to refugee assistance. Looking at the African context, specifically cases from East Africa, it gives an introduction to the historical complexities of refugee assistance, from policy development to its implementation. The students get an insight into the evolution of refugee camps into long-term urban-like spaces, and the current shifting focus to provide refugee assistance in urban areas. Through role play for a case study in Kampala, they explore the different actors involved and their underlying motives, pros and cons of refugee camps and assistance in urban areas, and the role of built environment professionals in refugee assistance. Therefore, the course provides the students with a wide understanding of the complexity and malleability of concepts, roles, objectives, policies and programs involved in the evolving refugee assistance and opens new enquiries.

Mapping Actors

Mapping refugees in your country


Check out these books Nerea Amorós recommended to our students!

Betts, A., Loescher, G., and Milner, J., The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection. (Routledge, 2012).

Corsellis, T., and Vitale, A., Transitional Settlement: Displaced Populations (2005).

Harrell-Bond, B., Imposing Aid : Emergency Assistance to Refugees. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1986). Herz, M., ‘From Camp to City: Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara’ (2013).

Loescher, G., The UNHCR and World Politics, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001).

Peteet, J.M., Landscape of Hope and Despair (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

UNHCR, Emergency Handbook. Camp Planning Standards. (Planned Settlements).


Images: Kisenyi, Kampala, Uganda by Slumdwellers International, Creative Commons Licensed


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