The Braillard Architects Foundation (FBA), member of the Berges de Vessy Association (ABV), together with the Initiative to Value Human Life Foundation (IVHL), organised a round table called “Human Urgency and Human Value” at the Berges de Vessy on Wednesday September 19th.
Within the framework of the Urgence humanitaire exhibition, this event was organised by the ABV on-site, an adequate setting to discuss issues relating to emergency shelters, populations in distress and the solutions that must be imagined to value human life in all its diversity.
- Panos Mantziaras, director of the Braillard Architects Foundation (FBA)
- Robert Sadleir, president of the Institute for the Value of Human Life (IVHL)
- Linda Besharaty, Director, ICMC-UNHCR Deployment Scheme
- Ariane Braillard, member of the FBA Council
- Gerard Doolin, Technology Lawyer, formerly with Avanade and Truman Hoyle Lawyers
- Isabelle Ducimetière, member of the FBA Council
- Steve Maslin, Architect BUD, Schumacher Institute, Bristol
- Raffael Mattar Neri, Architect, Global Shelter Cluster, UNCHR
The world is going through a period of rapid urbanisation: cities, seen as engines of growth, harness knowledge and investment networks to create economic opportunities, leading to competition for space among inhabitants. At the same time, the number of forcibly displaced people has reached 65 million worldwide, creating a sense of weakening in humanitarian action. Residents of highly urbanised cities and displaced populations share the need for shelter. The cost of urban housing is rising sharply, partly because of demographic pressure but also because housing is no longer seen as a basic need, but as a factor of wealth. The competition for shelters creates insecurity as well as hostility against migrants and asylum seekers.
It was against this background that our stakeholders from humanitarian, architecture, building design and technology sectors debated. Speakers observed that urgency and human worth required understanding at both the individual and the collective level. Moreover, collective responsibility does not rest only with governments but also with communities. A representative of UNHCR’s Global Shelter Cluster suggested reformulating our perception of refugee camps: rather than seeing them as a burden on local authorities and communities, these camps could be seen as proto-cities or knowledge networks that could generate growth in our regions. Technology, and in particular mobile technology, has a role to play here in bridging the gap between displaced communities and host countries: particularly given the need to focus on education and training, by educating refugee children.