It’s cool to study architecture from different places. You can often find out how people live by looking at the floorplans of a local building. You can even tell if the building is from a hot or cold climate if you look carefully. Likewise, it can be really insightful to understand the considerations an architect needs to make. What do they find most important in their designs? Is it affordability, circularity, comfort, safety, or something else? How do they make decisions about their design? This idea that you can learn from the considerations of others was the reason to organise the event.
- Job Schroën

The complexity of implications resulting from destruction spans across so many levels that the ability to grasp them and respond promptly becomes a challenge on its own. While a basic roof over the head comes first on the priority list, privacy and dignity - mental comfort - is equally crucial. In that sense, listening to the local community is key.

Typical Haitian house with two doors. (

The workshop started with an informative presentation about the importance of context, and  small things - ones that often skip the attention of an outsider but ultimately determine the impact of the project. CARE brought an example of how a dedicated number of blankets provided in the shelter can dictate the dynamic inside the refuge and can lead to, or prevent potential abuse among distressed families. It becomes especially relevant, when it comes to female survivors placed among male, who are either strangers but often family members under the trauma of the events. Another example looks at traditional dwellings in Haiti, where the community's belief in spirits visiting homes translates into architecture. Each house has two front doors, allowing the spirits to enter and leave the premises freely. These cultural nuances need to be incorporated to make for an adequate, hence usable shelter and facilitate rebuilding of community!

While starchitects largely occupy the stage of humanitarian action, let's not forget the humble heroes like CARE. In an era when architecture can be seen as a destructive force facilitating urbanisation and consequent emissions, humanitarian architecture comes as a restorative power used in a meaningful way, and a fulfilling path for an architect.

This workshop has opened my eyes to the realm of Humanitarian Architecture. I found this session very informative and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Having the opportunity to listen and hear the presentation first-hand produced greater insight into the importance of these roles and pushed me to consider this type of career for my future. It would be great to implement deeper and more open discussion between CARE and the students in the future.
- Jonas (student/worshop participant)

During the workshop, participants were divided into groups, each with a task to propose a humanitarian approach based on given context. We came up with solutions for Haiti, Sint Maarten, Ukraine, Jordan, and more! (Marcel Bilow)