2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XVIII

Welcome to Part XVIII of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today, we take a look at student work that focuses on empowering women across the world, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Chicago. Each project addresses the systemic inequalities and marginalization women face and proposes architectural solutions to promote education, safe spaces, violence prevention, and the dismantling of colonial and patriarchal structures.

KUSHIRIKIANA: Une approche architecturale collaborative et résiliente supportant la prévention de la violence sexuelle à l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo by Jonathan Kabumbe, M. Arch ‘23
Laurentian University – McEwen School of Architecture | Advisor: Dr. Emilie Pinard

Sexual violence against women and children in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo is a problem rooted in a long history of violence and raises a number of political, security, cultural, economic, and educational issues. The latter three issues relate specifically to discrimination against women, their economic vulnerability, and poor access to education. Social architecture provides the socio-economic and educational principles that can empower a community. Predominantly male, the building process expands these avenues specifically for women. This thesis explores how architecture, in particular the construction process, can contribute to transforming the image of women in order to support the prevention of sexual violence in Eastern Congo. The thesis revolves around the creation of an architectural guide for NGO development projects, and its application in the design of a women’s crafts and agriculture center in Businga, South Kivu province. (translated from the original French version) 

This thesis received the following accolades: 

– Thesis Commendation

– RAIC Student Medal

– RAIC Honour Roll

– AIA Academic Excellence Medal

– BTES Edward Allen Award (Medal)

– Ontario Association of Architects – Exceptional Leadership Through Design Excellence Scholarship: Equity, Diversity & Inclusion [$2500]

– Nominated by the School for the Canadian Architect magazine Student Awards of Excellence

Instagram: @jonathan_kabumbe

Women Inequality: A New Malala Center for Guatemala by Ariana Caquías-Acosta, B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisors: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres & Juan C. Santiago-Colón

Women have been marginalized due to inequality, discrimination, and lack of opportunities. Through spaces, design, and architecture, we can provide opportunities and tools for women in these conditions to balance this disadvantage. The project seeks to generate an architecture that contributes to solving problems, with a focus on design in response to the specific needs of inequality towards disadvantaged women.

This research was conducted for Guatemala, the country with the highest rate of gender inequality in Latin America. Women represent 51% of the population, with a 62.5% rate of illiterate women. Statistically, 11% of girls and adolescents between 11 and 19 years of age have not received any formal education, representing the highest percentage of those who cannot read or write in the region.

The project expands on an existing Malala Center in the location, as an organization that seeks and prioritizes education and equal resources for women. Malala Centers have a program for the education of indigenous girls in Guatemala. The educational programs proposed by the centers are taught in indigenous languages and are based on indigenous culture reinforcing skills in favor of personal and socioeconomic development. The educational foundation Fe y Alegría, and the municipalities become stakeholders for this proposal.

The final objective of the Malala Center is to ensure the full and effective participation of women and girls and establish equal opportunities for leadership at all decision-making levels in political, economic, and public life.

Instagram: @caquiasacosta

Viaduct Housing by Tim Wood, B.A. in Architecture ‘23
University of Illinois at Chicago | Advisor: Alexander Eisenschmidt

In the blocks surrounding Douglass Park in Chicago, over 80% of households are led by single mothers. In addition to performing paid labor to financially support their families, these mothers also perform thirty hours of unpaid domestic labor for their families per week, leaving little time for rest, play, or personal development. This project proposes a monolithic housing collective that spans three city blocks, sitting on the viaduct of an unused rail line. Domestic labor is outsourced to dedicated programs that stretch into the surrounding neighborhood. Collective meals are hosted in the shared kitchen and dining facility, and an on-site cafe is open to both residents and the public. A laundry service takes dirty clothes and returns them washed and folded. Children are cared for at different ages in different facilities, with a nursery and daycare for young children, an after-school program for the nearby elementary and middle school, and a recreation center for older children. By freeing overburdened mothers from this domestic labor, they are able to rest, play, and nurture themselves and their children.

Instagram: @Eisenschmidt_a

Her Block by Phebe Davis, M. Arch ‘23
University of Oregon, School of Architecture and Environment | Advisor: Elisandra Garcia

Women experience gender-based violence all too often – whether it be psychological, physical, or sexual.

Violence against women exists in all sectors of our lives: violence in politics (laws restricting access to abortion and gender-affirming healthcare), violence in the workplace (unequal pay or sexual harassment), violence in healthcare (not being heard by healthcare providers), violence in education (being discouraged from pursuing ‘masculine’ fields, specifically those in STEM), and violence at home (domestic violence).

I am interested in what constitutes a safe space for women. If we can create safe spaces for women, those spaces will be safe for almost everyone.

Once safety is achieved, empowerment can begin. This is how we will combat the violence that we experience, by creating a space that instills confidence in young women to fight back against the violent, patriarchal society that we exist in.

I recognize that my project alone will not dismantle the patriarchal society in which we live, but will hopefully spark inspiration for others to try to design with women in mind.

This project was recognized as one of “10 selected projects by the University of Oregon – Dezeen Magazine”

Instagram: @phebedvs7, @_elistudio

The Sundarbans’ Heroines: Gender and Climate Change in Action by Farzana Hossain, B.Arch ‘23
Cornell University | Advisors: Lily Chi & Felix Heisel

“The Sundarbans’ Heroines: Gender and Climate Change in Action” presents a comprehensive framework that empowers women through various tools to promote sedimentation, nurture mangroves, and safeguard freshwater resources. These initiatives aim to support the cultivation of indigenous infrastructure built upon local practices of living and working with water. In doing so, this project raises essential questions: How can design empower communities to adapt to a changing landscape? How might the vernacular inform and contribute to systemic amelioration to facilitate those most vulnerable to the climate crisis? 

The Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta river in Bangladesh receives 1.2 billion tons of silt each year from the Himalayan glaciers. This silt is vital for 600 million people relying on the delta for freshwater. Mixing with the Bay of Bengal’s saltwater, it forms the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans. The British East India Company arrived in the 17th century and gradually extended its control over vast territories in the Indian subcontinent. Motivated by the strategic importance and abundant resources of the Sundarbans, the British colonial regime had a profound effect on the local population and the delicate ecology of the Sundarbans. While the locals celebrated the “Bonna” season, characterized by floods and silt deposition, the British aimed to control and manipulate these natural phenomena. Their interventions, such as clearing mangroves, constructing polders, and developing railroads, disrupted the annual cycle of silt deposition necessary for land elevation against rising sea levels. Consequently, silt accumulation diminished, leading to the obstruction of riverbeds. Inadequately designed polders exacerbated monsoon flooding, while saltwater intrusion damaged arable land during dry seasons.

Today, the degradation caused by colonial infrastructure is causing men to migrate to urban areas in search of employment, leaving rural women to bear the brunt of these environmental disasters.

This project won the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Award (Thesis Prize) 

Instagram: @felix.heisel

Jubilant Emigration by Alex Torres, B.Arch ‘23
Cornell University | Advisors: Peter Robinson Sydney Maubert

Set in the 1980s Salvadoran Civil War, this investigation starts with acknowledging the history of violence against trans female sex workers who made their living tending to military soldiers of the time in La Praviana, San Salvador. With the continued need for trans female sex workers to escape violence today, this thesis calls for the reactivation of the Salvadoran National Railway that will serve as a moving infrastructure that mobilizes queer bodies away from harm. The site of intervention is an antique railcar of the national railway, known in English as “The Silver Bullet”. This intervention will transform the interior railcar into a place for rest, utility, sex, empathy, and celebration. 

This semester-long thesis culminated into an exhibition that lasted for a week inside the Sibley Hall basement, room B56.

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XI

Welcome back to another week of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! In Week XI, we highlight student projects that use space as an avenue to create equitable community resources. From neighborhood civic buildings to multi-faceted housing units, this week’s featured projects address bridging societal gaps and emphasize the importance of creating opportunities for social interaction and dialogue between diverse communities. By taking a look at the projects below, you will learn how each student project proposes a space that promotes inclusivity and fosters community connections.

Center for Tolerance by Rebecca Dejenie, B.Arch‘23
The Boston Architectural College | Advisors: Peter Martin and Robert Gillig

This design imagines the Roxbury Crossing station as a free station as it becomes a new node for the city of Boston. The Center for Tolerance is a civic building that would allow different activities from music studios, makerspaces, food court, material exchange library, multi-purpose classrooms, exhibits, offices, studios, therapy clinics, and meditation spaces, to gardens with seats to encourage users to sit and converse with one another. As the site is located on the border of two neighborhoods, it will provide a spatial bridge for people from different backgrounds to come together to heal. This building will be used as a resource for all – especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This building is a representation of what equity in the built environment can look like.

This project was awarded the Best of B. Arch Degree Project 2023.

Dis-Luxury from Luxury: Inequality Brought by Consumerism and Luxury Reimagining by Eduardo A. Caraballo-Arroyo B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisors: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres, Luis V. Badillo-Lozano & Manuel De Lemos-Zuazaga

In Curitiba, Brazil, an architectural project is reimagining luxury and addressing social division to foster a community that values inclusivity, sustainability, and social equity. By challenging the pursuit of material wealth and status, this project aims to create an inclusive society where individuals feel fulfilled and valued. The project recognizes that luxury is often associated with abundance and comfort but can lead to marginalization, inequality, scarcity, and disconnection within communities. In a capitalist and consumerist society, luxury is marketed as an asset of ease and comfort, perpetuating social divisions and excluding those who cannot afford it. To address this problem, the architectural project seeks to interconnect both ends of the wealth spectrum through spaces that foster communication, action, and self-development.

The objective is to design an urban-social space that combines the rewards and necessities derived from luxury. This space offers physiological resources, developmental opportunities, a sense of belonging, and luxurious experiences, becoming a social equalizer and a support system for the community. By emphasizing the emotions associated with luxury, such as power, confidence, security, and contemplation/enjoyment, the project creates spaces for interactions and community communication. Elements such as small-scale farming, community/cultural integration, open spaces for social and community activities, and emancipatory and cultural educational spaces are included in the program. The project also aims to reduce limitations by embracing degrowth and minimalist systems.

The main strategy revolves around luxury as an emotional reaction. Luxury consumption triggers psychological responses associated with trust, power, contentment, and security. The architectural design incorporates pathways and axes that lead towards focus areas, lifting the first level and creating porous volumes to enhance openness and connection. Strategically positioned openings offer views towards the focus areas, creating voids and spaces that provide experiential and spatial experiences. By implementing this design, the project aims to address luxury inequality, foster social cohesion, and create spaces that promote inclusivity, equal access to resources, and a sense of well-being for all members of society. Through its transformative power, this project challenges conventional notions of luxury and redefines its role in creating a more connected and equitable world.

Instagram: @_eaca23

Kordilyera Vernacular Inspired Interpretive Center in Paradise Hills, San Diego by Greco Cosente, B. Arch ‘23
NewSchool of Architecture and Design |Advisor: Raúl Díaz

With historical and cultural aspects of Paradise Hills being mainly single-family dwellings from the 1950s and its relation to the military, specifically the navy, a demographic group of the Filipino population has emerged throughout the years. Generic designs of suburban parks do not cater to the needs of the current population. In an attempt to advance green space, park designs drawing from culture with the architectural language of pavilions are explored. The project caters to bridging the gap between community park design and Filipino residents through a Kordilyera-inspired Interpretive Center in Paradise Hills, San Diego; A reinstitution of cultural identity for U.S.-born Filipino-Americans.

The project was awarded the Outstanding Design Award – Degree Project.

U Belong: A New Live/Work Housing Prototype by Jada Rezac and Margaret Phillips, M. Arch ‘23
Kansas State University |Advisor: Zhan Chen – Assistant Professor

The current housing crisis in the US challenges architecture to address a critical need while presenting the opportunity to propose new solutions. The studio, titled: In With the New, operates as a laboratory in which to explore innovative possibilities for multi-family living. Students design new models that reframe housing as a multi-faceted domain, able to navigate various scenarios and support diverse communities.

Jada and Margaret’s project responds to the evolving needs of contemporary living by integrating residential units and workspaces. The project uses a calibrated arrangement of U-shaped modules to create new possibilities for both living and working.

The unit clusters maintain a high degree of porosity, which allows more access to natural light and promotes cross ventilation. These considerations enhance human comfort and productivity while presenting an innovative strategy for improving the overall health of its inhabitants.

The relationship between living and working units and their arrangement also seeks to alleviate social isolation. The units are grouped into smaller neighborhoods, fostering familiarity and more meaningful social interactions. Communal spaces within these neighborhoods and intersecting circulation paths also help build a stronger sense of community within a large complex.

The project was nominated for the Nominated for the Heintzelman Prize at Kansas State University.

Instagram: @jadarezac ; @margaret_rose_phillips ; @studiozhan

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

U. Buffalo Hosts Events on Global Health Equity

(via UB Now)

Global health equity will be the focus of a series of events UB is hosting this spring. Events range from a talk addressing malnutrition among children in developing countries, to hosting leaders from across the Western Hemisphere for the biennial meeting of the Interamerican Network for Healthy Habitats. In addition, UB will host a keynote lecture by a Geneva-based World Health Organization expert, a health summit aimed at improving health for refugees in Western New York, and an innovation challenge for students.Supported by the Community for Global Health Equity and the School of Public Health and Health Professions’ Office of Global Health Initiatives, these events highlight UB’s flourishing global health strengths.“Seven years ago, a small group of public health students developed the concept of the very first Global Health Day here at UB. Since then, we have been able to dramatically expand global health activities on campus, thanks to the generous funding support provided to the SPHHP Office of Global Health Initiatives and the UB Community for Global Health Equity,” said Pavani Ram, a co-director of UB’s Community for Global Health Equity and director for the Office of Global Health Initiatives.“Attracting colleagues from across the Americas and from international organizations such as the World Health Organization is a testament to the exciting global health opportunities now available at the university.”Registration is required for most events. Visit the links below for registration and additional information. Here’s an overview of each event:
March 31: Global Health Day (noon-4 p.m.)
This is the seventh year for this event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m. in 111 Kimball Tower on UB’s South Campus. Keynote speaker Rebecca J. Stoltzfus — professor in the Division of Nutrition Sciences and vice provost for undergraduate education at Cornell University — will discuss the causes of childhood malnutrition. Stoltzfus is engaged in research projects in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.Following the keynote address will be presentations from students across a range of disciplines, including architecture, geology and epidemiology.A global health research panel will take place from 3-4 p.m. featuring six UB researchers: Diana Aga, professor of chemistry; Kasia Kordas, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health; Indranil Goswami, assistant professor of marketing; Helen Wang, associate professor of communication; Oscar Gomez, associate professor of pediatrics; and Samina Raja, associate professor of urban and regional planning.Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, will deliver closing remarks.Global Health Day is co-sponsored by SPHHP’s Office of Global Health Initiatives and the UB Community for Global Health Equity. More info at:
April 18-19: 11th Biennial Meeting of the Inter-American Network of Healthy Habitats
The School of Public Health and Health Professions and the School of Architecture and Planning are hosting this two-day event as part of the university’s role as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Health in Housing.The event will feature a keynote address from Nathalie Roebbel, technical officer in the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.Presentations will also be given by Samina Raja, associate professor of urban and regional planning, and Henry Louis Taylor, professor of urban and regional planning.
April 20: Symposium on Promoting the Health of Migrants in the Americas
UB’s Community for Global Health Equity will host this symposium on promoting the health of migrants in the Americas featuring keynote speaker Marcelo Korc, a regional adviser with the WHO / Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The symposium will include a presentation by Kim Griswold, associate professor of family medicine, psychiatry and public health and health professions at UB.
April 21: fourth annual WNY Refugee Health Summit (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
Registration is required for this event, which is sponsored by UB’s Office of Global Health Initiatives and the UB Community for Global Health EquityBuffalo is home to over 22,000 foreign-born residents, many of whom are refugees. The foreign-born population increased by 95 percent between 2006 and 2013, doubling the number of students with limited English proficiency in Buffalo’s public schools. Buffalo’s refugee populations are revitalizing and diversifying Buffalo – but challenges remain in delivering effective health care for them.The summit, which takes place in UB’s Educational Opportunity Center (555 Ellicott St., Buffalo), convenes scholars, resettlement agencies, service providers, community support centers, municipal agencies and refugees to explore barriers and solutions to promote culturally engaged health care for refugees in Buffalo.The event begins at 9 a.m. with a welcome by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Summit speakers include:
  • Kevin Pottie, founding director of the Immigrant Health Clinic of Ottawa and a researcher in the Centre for Global Health at the University of Ottawa.
  • Meb Rashid, who in his role as medical director of the Crossroads Clinic works with newly arrived refugees in Canada.
  • Sharmila Shetty, a medical epidemiologist in the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Deborah Lee, who for the past 10 years has worked as an epidemiologist in the Immigrant, Refugee and Migrant Health (IRMH) Branch of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) on U.S. immigrant and refugee health issues and has managed the Migrant Serum Bank since 2007.

More info at:

May 22-26: Global Innovation Challenge

Teams of UB undergraduate and graduate students will partner with faculty experts and local professionals to compete for funding to further the ideas they’ll hone through the first half of the week.The challenge is for teams to develop strategies that bridge the gap between Western and non-Western “cultures of care” in order to improve the continuity of care, which in turn improves health and wellness among refugees in Buffalo.The week will begin with short presentations from guests, coupled with small- and whole-group discussions. As major themes emerge, teams will surface through a combined approach of self-organizing and facilitator organizing. As the teamwork progresses, each group will be encouraged to focus their proposed strategies toward a specific health care type or situation, group and strategy.Teams will be coached on how to present their ideas, and will get practice and feedback prior to the “pitch” to the jury on May 26.The Global Innovation Challenge was started last year and is organized by the Community for Global Health Equity. More information is available at:
Learn more about the architecture program at University of Buffalo!