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A day in the life of a humanitarian architect

  • RMIT Design Hub Victoria Street Carlton, VIC, 3053 Australia (map)

The fundamental purpose of architecture is to provide shelter, but in a world obsessed by novelty, development and acquisition this purpose is often subverted and obscured. Concerned with the welfare and wellbeing of individuals and communities, Humanitarian Architects utilise their problem solving capacities to address complex shelter and infrastructure challenges in vulnerable communities, at both micro and macro scales.

From Maningrida to Kabul, A Day in the Life of the Humanitarian Architect explores the practice and projects of a wide group of individuals dedicated to improving human welfare through designing shelter and infrastructure in complex post disaster and socially marginalised communities. This episode begins with RMIT students joining Yasmeen Lari (Pakistans’ first female architect) for a bamboo structure-building workshop, followed by a forum on related work by humanitarian designers from Australia and around the world. (1).jpg


10AM – 12:30PM
Yasmeen Lari with RMIT students

1 – 1:30PM

1:30 – 3:30PM
with Esther Charlesworth, Shaneen Fantin, Martyn Hook, Jane Johnson, Yasmeen Lari, Leeanne Marshall, Nicole Mechkaroff, David O’Brien, Fabian Prideaux and Robert Watson

WORKAROUND engages with a movement of women focused on advocacy and activism within an expanded field of architecture. Each of these practitioners works towards positive change in the built environment and its surrounding cultures. WORKAROUND is an online broadcast and a program of live events. Across fourteen daily episodes, fourteen Australian practitioners each present a critique, conversation, interview, workshop or performance that articulates their strategies and workarounds and reflects on their activist practice.

ESTHER CHARLESWORTH is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Urban Design at RMIT University and Director of the Humanitarian Architecture Research Lab (HARB). She is the founding Director of Architects without Frontiers (AWF). Since 2002, AWF has undertaken over 42 health, education and social infrastructure projects in 12 countries for vulnerable communities, and has been described by ABC radio broadcaster Phillip Adams as ‘destined to develop into one of the greater forces of good on this battered planet’.

At RMIT, Charlesworth is the Academic Director of Master of Disaster, Design and Development degree (MoDDD). Since 1990 she has worked in the public and private sectors of architecture and urban design in Melbourne, Sydney, New York and Boston and has published seven books on the theme of social justice and architecture, including: Divided Cities (2009), Humanitarian Architecture (2014) and Sustainable Housing Reconstruction(2015).