arch-peace news and articles


Power to the People: The importance of democratic public spaces

You’re invited! Join us on Tuesday, 23 January 2018 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm for our first ever MTalk, Power to the People: the importance of democratic public spaces. Held at MPavilion in the heart of Melbourne, you’ll hear from architect, urban designer and A4P’s founder Beatriz Maturana Cossio; professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Melbourne, Kim Dovey; architect, design tutor and researcher, Peter Raisbeck; and moderator Lara Brown, writer and former senior editor of Chicago Architect magazine.

The discussion will focus on the history and importance of democratic public spaces in urban environments, examining the necessity of places that are free and open to all members of the public. Looking at relevant examples from Melbourne and around the world, we’ll delve into the challenges of contemporary public spaces.  

Beatriz Maturana Cossio will discuss the origins of Architects for Peace and politics of space. She’ll be joined by Peter Raisbeck, who will focus on topics from his Design Activism course, including: occupying and democratizing space and how architects can serve as advocates. Kim Hovey will also weigh in on the design of public space, the politics of authority and resistance, and the commercialization and privatization of public space.

We hope you’ll join us at our first MTalk at MPavilion. There will be drinks and snacks available at the MPavilion bar. Register now. Free and open to the public.

This event is made possible in part to a grant from the City of Melbourne.  


Architects for Peace welcomes the 2018 steering committee

Introducing the new steering committee, elected at our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 21st November 2017:

President: Nicole Mechkaroff
Vice President: Anne-Claire Deville
Secretary: Lorenza Lazzati
Treasurer: Pauline Ng
Public Officer: Lara Brown
General Member: Yang Bai
General Member: Stephen Herbst
General Member: Fernando Estrada Martinez de Alva
General Member: Farah Rozhan
General Member: Tayyab Ahmad

We are delighted to welcome four new members to the team: Lara Brown, Stephen Herbst, Fernando Estrada Martinez de Alva and Tayyab Ahmad. All members contributed to the organisation in various capacities last year, ranging from campaigns, written submissions, the quarterly talk series and website development. Lara, Stephen, Fernando and Tayyab bring many skills and international perspectives to the team, which you can read about below. We look forward to working together this year.

Lara Brown
Lara is a writer specialising in Architecture and was actively involved in communications and campaigning throughout 2017. She represented the organisation in a public hearing to denounce the proposed amendments to the Local Activities Law affecting people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne's CBD. In addition, she led a successful fundraising campaign to help launch a new website for the organisation - an activity which has established an important foundation for 2018. She will continue to strengthen and diversify communications and campaigning this year.

Fernando Estrada Martinez de Alva
Fernando offers unique knowledge in 'Computerised Support for Psychological Well-being' and has been a valued team member in planning and conceptualising a new website for the organisation. His technical knowledge and likeable character gained volunteer cooperation during his pilot program to gather information on website design and usability preferences. Fernando will lead the next website development project phase, working towards its delivery in 2018.

Stephen Herbst
Stephen is an Architect and is passionate about protecting the heritage of the natural and urban environments through community based educational experiences. He represented the organisation in a public hearing to denounce the proposed amendments to the Local Activities Law affecting people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne's CBD. His continuing inquiry into government decision making and public engagement processes led to him publishing several editorial pieces in 2017 and he will now manage the editorial team.

Tayyab Ahmad
Tayyab brings a mindful outlook to the team with his personal values in leaving a positive impact on society through the development of the built environment. His research focus on 'delivering green building projects' became relevant to the Pecha Kucha event night where he was proactive in topic development and critical group discussion. As an international student, Tayyab supports Architects for Peace's ambition to strengthen its international student connections and represents the organisation at the University of Melbourne.

Architects for Peace has active city and regional branches across Australia, Chile and Germany, and seeks to foster further growth in new and existing international branches. In Sydney, Australia we welcome back Eva Rodriguez Riestra (founding member of Architects for Peace), who will coordinate a new wave of activity this year. She is a public art curator and commissioner with a background in architecture, urban design and art history, and has an ongoing involvement in academic research and education.

Our team of advisors will work closely with the steering committee in 2018 and will continue to shape Architects for Peace in the next phase of growth: Dr Beatriz Maturana Cossio (founder of Architects for Peace), Anthony McInneny (founding member of Architects for Peace), Targol Khorram, Peter Johns and Eleanor Chapman.

A very special thank you to Targol Khorram whose skills, expertise and commitment has been crucial to the organisation's new growth since the delivery of the Strategic Plan. She has stepped away from her former role as President and will continue to support the committee as an advisor.

Many volunteers made regular contributions important in the day to day running of the organisation: Anna Rowe, Tony Luo, Richie Dean, Haoming Xu, Jimmi Connor, Chun Guo, Zamaneh Khoshdel and Natalie Chow.

Thank you to the former steering committee members for their commitment and generous contributions throughout 2017.

Nicole Mechkaroff
President, Architects for Peace 2018


Thank you and best wishes for 2018

Please join us at our end-of-year celebration, we would love to see you there! Come and take part, as we thank all of our friends and look back on the year that was.

2017 was a year of outstanding success - made possible due to many generous gifts of time and assistance: from members, volunteers and supporters alike. We appreciate and value your contribution, and look forward to making you feel special!

The event will be held Friday 15th December, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm, at our perennial favourite Testing Grounds. Find a drink and join us in the evening sun. We’ll be outside, with an array of yummy nibbles to share! Navigate to the venue on Google Maps.

Please register your interest on our Facebook Event, and don't forget to pop it in your calendar!

This year the steering committee has been made up of:
  • President – Targol Khorram
  • Vice President –Nicole Mechkaroff
  • Secretary – Anne-Claire Deville*
  • Public Officer – Anna Rowe
  • Treasurer – Pauline Ng
  • Project Manager / General member 1: Lorenza Lazzati *
  • General Member 2 – Richie Dean
  • General Member 3 – Farah Rozhan
  • General Member 4 – Yang Bai
*Lorenza Lazzati took over the role of Secretary from Anne-Claire Deville
We were delighted to welcome new volunteers to the team:
  • Fernando Estrada
  • Tony Luo
  • Zamaneh Khoshdel
  • Chun Guo
  • Giles Simon
  • Stephen Herbst
  • James Connor
  • Tayyab Ahmad
  • Natalie Ser Whye Chow

We also had a team of advisers who kindly offered their help and worked with us closely in 2016:
  • Dr Beatriz C. Maturana (founder of Architects for Peace)
  • Anthony McInneny
  • Peter Johns
  • Eleanor Chapman

Sponsors and supporters
Architects for Peace would like to thank all the individuals and organizations who have kindly supported us by either donating to the organization, becoming a sponsor or donating their time and meeting with us.
List of our sponsors for 2017 is as follow:
  • Butter Paper Architecture
  • ArchiTeam cooperative
  • City of Melbourne
Special thanks to Marry Ann Jackson from Visionary Design Development for her ongoing support.

Fundraising campaign (Our virtual home)
In 2017 Architects for Peace had a fundraising campaign to collect donations to rebuild our website. Thank you to all our supporters who donated to the campaign.  We hope to have the new website up and running next year.

Implementation of strategic plan:
Early in 2017 Architects for Peace held an information session and workshop to discuss current project activity and, to seek out further projects that will continue to build on the vision, mission and values of the organization and its Strategic Plan (Spring 2014 to Spring 2018). This public session presented opportunities to learn about the organization's history and current values for those who were interested to join the team as new members and invited multi-disciplinary discussion about projects that aim to address spatial and social justice issues in our urban and natural environments. The workshop was focused on how the organization develops activities based on research projects, partnerships, educational initiatives and campaigning activity.
Based on the outcome of the workshop our 2017 activities were designed around our organization’s four goals as described in the strategic plan document with a focus on housing and the right to the city.

Our Talks series and events benefited from our experience of running events and talks for many years at Architects for Peace and having a talented and motivated team who devoted their time and energy to host very interesting and well attended events in 2017.  Having the grant from City of Melbourne was a big help in funding our events. Another strong aspect of this year’s events were collaborations between Architects for peace and different organizations, which helped promote the events, engage with more audience and built relationships among organizations for future activities.
Apart from workshops and social events, there were four main events this year:
March talk: Design for all? Affordable housing & the right to the city
Architects for Peace hosted this event at the Drill Hall in collaboration with Melbourne Design Week.
Event manager:
Anne-Claire Deville
Guest Speakers:
Rob McGauran, Founding Director MGS Architects
Dr. Andrea Sharam, School of Property, Construction and Property Management RMIT
Professor Tony Dalton, Centre for Urban Research RMIT
Kate McMahon, Co-Founder Hello City
Kate Raynor, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Transforming Housing, The university of Melbourne

July talk: Pecha Kucha Melbourne Volume 29: MY UTOPIA, YOUR DYSTOPIA?
Architects for Peace in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders (Victoria Region) and Pecha Kucha Melbourne hosted Melbourne's 29th Pecha Kucha Night at the Drill Hall Event manager:
Nicole Mechkaroff
Guest speakers:
Stella Veal
Alex Thomas
Peter Raisbeck
Lee Godden
Viv Faithfull
Grace Tjandraatmadja
Lloyd Lee

October talk: Walk tour and Film screening: Estate, a Reverie
This event consisted of two parts.
Part one: Estate walk / conversation. Neill Street Reserve
Part two: Film Screening and discussion. Carlton Baths.
Event manager : Anna row
Guest speaker : Ben Neil ( capire consulting )

November talk: Ethical cities lecture
This event was held at RMIT building 80 in collaboration with RMIT Centre for Urban Research.
Event manager:
Lorenza Lazzati
Guest speaker :
Professor Ralph Horne – RMIT Centre for Urban Research

Editorials and newsletter
Architects for Peace had many successful activities, events and lectures in 2017; however there is a limited number of volunteers to manage all the activities that we aim to do and publishing editorials seemed to be a bit challenging in 2017 with the current structure and approach.
The team decided to review the structure of the editorial section of the organization and aims to reach out to more people and publish more regularly in 2018.
Defending the right to public space: Architects for Peace opposes local law changes that seek to punish homelessness
In response to the City of Melbourne’s proposed amendments to the Activities (Public Amenity and Security) Local Law 2017, we made a submission, outlining our opposition to the changes. Architects for Peace viewed these changes as effectively criminalising homelessness and in violation of human rights, in particular, the right to be protected from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.
Further to the submission, Lara and Steve represented Architects for Peace to address the Submissions Committee on 6 April 2017 at Melbourne Town Hall.  More than 40 individuals and organizations chose to be heard in front of the committee, and each and every speaker rose to condemn the proposed amendments.

Important Correspondences
Architects for Peace responded to the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Human Right to Peace

Architects for Peace was more active in the street attending rallies and campaigns this year, the highlights included:
November 2017 : Street protest in support of refugees on Manus! Please keep up the demand that the men be treated humanely and that they receive food, water and medical treatment.
Aug 2017 : Architects for Peace says YES to #equality and attends street rally in support of same sex marriage .
June 2017: Architects for Peace supports the rights of people seeking refuge at #worldrefugeeday rally at the State Library. 

Social Media:
We have exceeded 28,000 Facebook followers, consisting of 51% women and 48% men, mostly between 25-34 years old.
This year, our fans were mainly from Iran followed by Australia, India, United States and Italy. The most popular languages are English followed by Spanish, French and Italian.
In terms of the number of people who have seen any content associated with AFP page by age and gender grouping the stats are as follow:
54% women, 44 % men between the age of 25-34.
Top countries that reached our content are: Australia, Italy, Tanzania and United Kingdom.
In terms of engagement in 2017 we had 63% engagement by women and 35% by men.

This year we decided to be more active on our LinkedIn page and LinkedIn group which resulted in increasing the number of followers of our LinkedIn company page to 275 and LinkedIn group page to 556. The team finds LinkedIn the most appropriate channel to share our activities and be connected to the professional network. With the new structure of our editorial we hope to be able to post more regularly on our LinkedIn group page as well and start conversation with people who share the same values in our profession in other parts of the world.
We started our activities on Instagram on 2015 and we reached almost 1000 followers this year.  In 2018 Architects for Peace would like to use Instagram to expand our network and to give voice to our followers from different countries to post on our Instagram page and share stories of social justice and the right to the city from their perspective in their country of origin, this will be in line with our goal 1 in the strategic plan to build a strong, sustainable and internationally connected organization. Details of this will be released in 2018.

Pro bono service
As part of the discussion when preparing the strategic plan, the committee decided to stop the pro bono section for various reasons discussed at the time; however, individual members have always been encouraged to bring in the projects that they find interesting and discuss it with the group.

2017 has been another successful year in terms of approaching different organizations and individuals and spreading the word about activities of AFP. We were able to build strong relationships with other organizations and deliver events and lectures in collaboration.
The list is as follow:
  • Melbourne Design Week, March talk (Design for all? Affordable housing & the right to the city)
  • Engineers without Borders, July talk (Pecha Kucha Melbourne Volume 29: MY UTOPIA, YOUR DYSTOPIA?)
  • Here UN Global Compact - Cities Programme, RMIT university, November talk( Ethical cities lecture)
  • Deep network, Collaborative workshop on building non violent communities and hosting international day of peace event.
  • Free theatre, Possible collaboration on a theatre in 2018
  • The University of Melbourne. Architects for peace guest lecturing on design activism course
  • Archi Flix film festival. Architects for Peace attended a panel to discuss inspiring women architects.

Architects for Peace Sponsored 2 events in 2017:
  • The first International Conference on Women and Urban Life. Tehran, Iran.

  • International day of peace celebration. Melbourne, Australia.

In 2017 Architects for Peace ran a fundraising campaign to raise money for the new website.
The fundraising campaign was very successful in terms of reconnecting with some old members and a good exercise for the team which led to many valuable lessons. At the end of the campaign Architects for Peace was able to raise a reasonable amount of money to start working on the new website, and we also received an offer for pro bono help in building our website. The team will try their best to deliver the new website by the end of 2018.
Special thanks to Lorenza Lazzati and Lara Brown for their time and effort in running the campaign.
Overseas branches
One of our goals for 2017 was to establish/strengthen links between Melbourne and our overseas branches. In order to achieve this goal the steering committee decided to provide the opportunity for individuals who are interested to run events under the umbrella of Architects for Peace. We have already started negotiations with potential candidates and details of this opportunity will be released in 2018.

Architects for Peace volunteers have actively participated in various events, conferences and workshops in 2017.
Some of the highlights included:
  • Implementing the New Urban Agenda, May 2017
  • DEEP workshop, exploring collaborative possibilities among organization active in peace building in Melbourne, Aug 2017. Other participants: DEEP Melbourne , Somali Council of Victoria, Free Theatre, Psychologist for Peace, Global Reconciliation, DEEP Kabul, Australians for Peace)
  • Building Non-Violent Societies, October 2017
  • Book Launch: Equity, Justice & the Sustainable City, November 2017

Plans for 2018
This year we started planning for 2018 well in advance. The Architects for Peace team had a workshop in October to reflect on the 2017 activities and plan for the upcoming year.

What emerged from the discussion with regards to the work done in 2017 was that the majority of the team enjoyed:
  1. The diversification in the work/activities as well as the variety of new partners and networks that AFP has engaged with this year.
  2. Organizing/participating in the organization’s events.
The team made decisions of how the organization can grow internally and discussed the activities planned for 2018. Some of the activities are as follow:

Develop a new strategic plan for AFP
Develop new website
Develop and activate overseas branches
Introduce new structure for editorials
Continue partnership and collaboration with other organizations
Actively promote UN SDG, through editorials and events

Thank you all for your support last year. In 2018 and after having the honor to run this amazing organisation for 2 years, I will step down from my role as the president but will continue with AFP as an advisor. Architects for peace will be led by the following steering committee as nominated at our Annual General Meeting:

President – Nicole Mechkaroff
Vice President – Anne-Claire Deville
Secretary –  Lorenza Lazzati
Public Officer – Lara Brown
Treasurer – Pauline Ng
General member 1: Farah Rozhan
General Member 2: Tayyab Ahmed
General Member 3 – Stephen Herbst
General Member 4 – Yang Bai
General Member 5 – Fernando Estrada

And finally, 2018 marks Architects for Peace 15th anniversary and the team wishes to deliver a full day of celebration and activity in a public space in Melbourne .

Targol Khorram
Architects for Peace President, 2017