Conference/ Panel Discussion Worlds of Homelessness: Day 3

Image: have you ever felt invisible © Goethe-Institut/Loredana La Rocca

Thu, 10/24/2019

4:00 PM - 8:00 PM


How can design engage with housing insecurity and homelessness and nurture thoughtful processes with communities?

There is a common misconception that city planning and architecture seek to provide „solutions to end homelessness.“ These solutions include various types of supportive, affordable, and shared housing as well as small scale structures providing temporary shelter. Independent of the quality of design thinking, such projects and structures can be met with opposition by the communities coming from the prospective occupants and the existing community.

How can homeless communities become a part of the strategic design process that is engaging and beneficial for them? How can architects produce mutually supportive environments for houseless communities? How can community-driven processes contribute to responsible and comprehensive design solutions? How can schools of design and architecture encourage the success of such initiatives?

Darin Johnstone from Los Angeles has worked collaboratively with Habitat For Humanity; Alexander Hagner from Vienna, Austria has created mixed housing that brings people experiencing homelessness together with students; Thorsten Deckler and Tebogo Ramatlo from Johannesburg, South Africa, have worked with informal settlements, community architects and students from the Johannesburg University Faculty of Architecture and Design; and Ana Elvira Vélez, an architect from Columbia, who has successfully created collective housing in Medellin.


4:00 – 7:00 PM Discussion: How can city planning and architecture engage
                                               with housing and homelessness and create
                                               thoughtful processes with communities?

Opening Remarks: Goethe-Institut and SCI-Arc
                                Darin Johnstone, Los Angeles, USA

                                Alexander Hagner, Vienna, Austria

                                Thorsten Deckler, Johannesburg, South Africa

                                Tebogo Ramatlo, Johannesburg, South Africa

                                Ana Elvira Velez, Medellin, Colombia
                                Moderator: Carlos Zedillo, Mexico City, Mexico

7:00 -8:00 PM Reception

Darin Johnstone
is an award-winning Los Angeles based architect and educator. With 26 years of experience in the field of architecture and 20 years spent educating young architects, Darin offers a unique perspective at the nexus between practice and academia. Darin founded DJA in 2004 to engage Architecture as an experimental overarching discipline. Consequently, DJA has accepted and invented a wide range of design challenges across the spectrum of architecture, urban planning, landscape design, interior design, furniture design, and site-specific installation. Over the last six years DJA has designed and completed multiple award-winning renovation projects and comprehensive program mapping and master plan projects for higher ed institutions in greater Los Angeles.
Darin is a Design faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI_Arc) where he has taught since 2002. From 2015 to 2016 Darin directed and taught studios for a collaboration between SCI_Arc and Habitat for Humanity that resulted in the design and construction of the multi-award-winning IVRV house.

Alexander Hagner Alexander Hagner (born 1963 in Germany) absolved a carpentry apprenticeship before studying architecture at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna where he graduated in 1995. In 1999, together with Ulrike Schartner, he founded gaupenraub +/- as an open office for architecture, design and urban strategies dealing mostly with very specific topics. Since 2002 Hagner works independently on alternative projects for homeless people. These projects include the overnight accommodation "VinziRast" (2004), the group-living shelter "VinziRast-WG" (2010), the "VinziRast-mittendrin" (2013) – a house for homeless and students living and working together. Recently gaupenraub+/- has realized the very low-income housing project "VinziDorf Wien" for homeless people in their last phase of life. Since 2016, Hagner is the endowed Chair for Social Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences Carinthia. Together with his students, he works on real-life projects by identifying the tools architects could use to improve sociability in an increasing nonhomogeneous society.

Thorsten Deckler is a Johannesburg based architect and co-founder (together with Anne Graupner) of 26’10 south Architects. The practice works across architecture, urban design, and knowledge management with the aim to create spaces in which people can thrive. Besides building key infrastructure and housing projects, 26’10 has conducted long-term research on informal urbanism, culminating in the InformalStudio run in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and Goethe-Institut. This material has been shared through popular media and exhibitions held locally and abroad. Thorsten is a popular speaker and has led workshops on urbanism at Washington University (St Louis, 2016) and the AZA Conference (Pretoria 2018). 26’10 has received local and international recognition and has been selected as best emerging practice in South Africa (Backstage Award Venice 2012).

Tebogo Ramatlo is an architect, lecturer, maker and performing arts choreographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.  He graduated from the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture in 2017 with a master’s dissertation focusing on how cities can develop transient centers for migrants to participate in skills and economic development.  Through the use of stop-frame animation, he narrated the potential for an urban future that moves from assailing migrants, in particular women with children seeking refuge in Johannesburg, to embracing them as positive contributors to society.  Tebogo has used the skill of story-telling in assisting with and running workshops on housing and urbanism South Africa, Brazil, and Peru. In 2018 he collaborated with architect Nadia Tromp on an installation for the Venice Architecture Biennale aimed at positioning the topic of migration as part of global architectural discourse. 

Ana Elvira Velez Villa believes in conscious and creative design at multiple scales as a method of intervention able to contribute to equality in the building of the city. After graduating from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in 1992, Ana based her architectural practice in Medellin, Colombia. With over two decades of practice, the focus of her work has been the design of collective housing with more than 2000 units built, public space, and public buildings. She has obtained several national awards at the Colombian Biennale. Since 2017, she is a consultant for Comfama, the biggest family compensation Corporation for Antioquia, where she leads several designs for urban and rural housing throughout the 125 towns of the region. Her main strategy is the design of intermediate spaces; those that bond the private and public spheres and are capable of hosting the customs of collective and individual daily life, allowing the building of sustainable communities.

Carlos Zedillo Velasco, born in 1982 in Mexico City, studied Art and Architecture at Yale University where he completed his Master’s program in 2010. In 2012, he joined the Mexican President’s transition team, developing projects to improve the quality of housing and the reduction of environmental impact. During his time as Head of Research Center for Sustainable Development at the National Housing Fund for Workers (2012 – 2018) he focused on housing and urban development In 2017, he founded PienZa Sostenible A.C., a nonprofit association that promotes the analysis, implementation and coordination on the current situation in Mexico aligned to the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations for Sustainable Development. In parallel, Zedillo remained academically active: he has been invited to teach courses and give lectures at universities such as Columbia, Yale and Harvard, as well as at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He is currently giving classes at the Southern California Institute of Architecture.