Rebel Architects Tackle Housing Issues

Rebel Architects Tackle Housing Issues

A revealing new six-part documentary series made by the TV network Al Jazeera, highlights the rising trend of international architects actively using their skills to tackle some of the world’s urban, environmental and social problems.

Activist architects from third-world or impoverished countries like Nigeria,Vietnam, Spain, Pakistan, Israel/Occupied West Bank and Brazil have boycotted working on multi-million dollar projects and elite ‘starchitecture’ to design for the masses – the working and ‘under’ classes, using loopholes in the law or sometimes, totally ignoring it, harnessing their abilities to fulfil a basic human right when governments won’t or can’t – sustainable, safe housing and safe communities.

Some work around the law, reclaiming unused urban spaces like Santiago Cirugeda in Seville, unwilling to wait for his town’s half-finished buildings to crumble, whilst some, like Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, are able to work within the law, adapting local building techniques and materials to rebuild villages after natural disasters occur.

In Part 3, entitled The architecture of violence, series creator Daniel Davies ventures to an area of current warfare – the Gaza strip, revealing decimated buildings ripped apart by war, along with the lives forced to live within them. Daniel shows the new-builds which sit at the centre of the ongoing conflict and how architecture can be used to destroy lives.

Al Jazeera is renowned for its controversial reportage and this series is a credit to its CV, openly highlighting the ineptitude or wilful failure of those in power who overlook the needs of the majority – and those who are now fighting back.

Eyal Weisman shows how politics – archaic planning laws and violence, have been used to control the built environment mainly for profit. The program highlights these ‘Rebel Architects’ who have shunned the big bucks, fame and fortune to satisfy the real reason they chose their professions – building for the people whilst designing urban architecture and landscapes using sustainable, local materials and innovative designs proving sadly, that there is simply no need for some of the world’s grand scale humanitarian issues.

Check out the series on Films For Action or Aljazeera, or check out Part 1, below.

photo credit: Architecture Daily

Share This

About the author