Open Lecture on Humanitarian Architecture

Nov. 7, 2018
Professor Esther Charlesworth (RMIT University, Australia), a founding Director of Architects without Frontiers will be giving two open lectures on humanitarian architecture. The first lecture will be held at the Museum of Finnish Architecture on November 21 and the second at the Migration Institute of Finland on November 22.

Charlesworth's lecture is titled:

Humanitarian Architecture – Disasters, Development and Design Responsibility.

‘Humanitarian Architecture’ is a collective belief that through a consultative process of spatial problem solving, the design profession can contribute in a significant way to the complex challenge of rebuilding a city and its community, following the event of a natural disaster. My lecture will explore my journey into humanitarian architecture over the last two decades and explore how I have merged theory and practice during my career in the establishment of Australia’s first design not for profit agency – Architects Without Frontiers.

The lecture held at the Migration Institute of Finland will be followed by a commentary reflecting on the spatiality of protection of displaced people by Postdoctoral Researcher (Academy of Finland) Eveliina Lyytinen from the Migration Institute of Finland.


Esther Charlesworth is a Professor in the School of Architecture and 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, 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).

Dr. Lyytinen has conducted qualitative research with Congolese refugees in Uganda investigating their understandings of protection, space and trust. Her doctoral research (University of Oxford 2014) was motivated by her interest in problematizing the notion of “protection space” developed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Currently Dr. Lyytinen is working on the spatio-temporal analysis of asylum seekers’ deportability in Finland as her post-doctoral project. In her research, she is linking theoretical ideas from human geography and refugee studies.

The event in Turku is organized by, Museum of Finnish Architecture, School of Arts, Design and Architecture at Aalto University, Allan and Bo Hjelt Art Foundation & Migration Institute of Finland.

The event in Helsinki is organized by The Department of Architecture at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture and the Museum of Finnish Architecture as part of the Interplay of Cultures program, and in collaboration with The Allan and Bo Hjelt Art Foundation.

Time and place:

November 21, at 18–20, Museum of Finnish Architecture (Kasarminkatu 24, Helsinki)
November 22, at 13–15, Migration Institute of Finland (Eerikinkatu 34, Turku)

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