Design to Live: Everyday Inventions from a Refugee Camp
Edited by Azra Aksamija, Raafat Majzoub and Melina Philippou
Published by the MIT Press, 2021
A conversation with ACT Director and Professor Azra Aksamija, Raafat Majzoub (SMACT ’17), and Melina Philippou (SMArchS ’16), moderated by Huma Gupta, lecturer in the Aga Khan Program fo Islamic Architecture
Featuring remarks from:
Mohammad AI Mez’al, Syrian Youth Leader, Azraq Camp, JO
Muteeb Awad AI Hamdan, High School Teacher, Azraq Camp, JO
Malek Abdin, Team Leader of CARE International in Jordan at the Azraq Refugee Camp, JO
Zeid Madi, Cluster Labs Founder, Amman, JO
Amani Yousef Alshabaan, Participatory Urban Development Practitioner, Amman, JO
The power of art and design to create a life worth living: designs, inventions, and artworks from the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan.
This book shows how refugees use art and design to transform their living environments, restoring humanity within circumstances that seem aimed at depriving them of it. Featuring more than twenty projects created by Syrian refugees at the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, Design to Live offers a new way of understanding design as a subversive worldmaking practice and as tool for reclaiming agency in conditions of forced displacement. The projects—including a vertical garden, an arrangement necessitated by regulations that forbid planting on the ground; a front hall, fashioned to protect privacy; a baby swing, made from recycled school desks; and a chess set, carved from broomsticks—showcase the discrepancy between standardized humanitarian design and the real sociocultural needs of refugees.
This bilingual book in English and Arabic documents designs by refugees through architectural drawings, illustrations, photographs, and texts by the camp residents, humanitarian workers, and researchers who collaborated on the book across cultural and disciplinary borders. Design to Live is the product of a three-year joint project of the MIT Future Heritage Lab and the Syrian refugees at the Azraq Refugee Camp, supported by CARE-Jordan and the German Jordanian University.
About the speakers:
Azra Aksamija, an artist and architectural historian, is Director and Founder of the MIT Future Heritage Lab (FHL) and Associate Professor in the MIT Department of Architecture and the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology.
Huma Gupta is a full-time Lecturer in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. Gupta holds a PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture and a Master’s in City Planning from MIT.
Raafat Majzoub, an architect, artist, and writer, is Director of The Khan: The Arab Association for Prototyping Cultural Practices and Editor-in-Chief of the Dongola Architecture Series.
Melina Philippou, an architect and urbanist, is Program Director of the MIT Future Heritage Lab, founder of Trapezui: Marble Objecthoods and Associate at the Department of City Planning, Ministry of Interior in Cyprus.