arch-peace news and articles


Paul Pholeros 1953-2016. A Legacy for Indigenous Housing through Community Empowerment

"It is hard to imagine how any individual can be at peace when their health is poor, their children are regularly sick and their general living environment miserable. To make any positive change in this cycle is difficult but essential." Paul Pholeros at Architects for Peace, 2008.

It is with great sadness that we inform our community of the death of distinguished architect and activist Paul Pholeros, who left us at the early age of 62. Paul was an expert and an activist for the right of quality housing for indigenous people in Australia. His participatory approach resonated not only at home but also in the rest of the world, where indigenous rights to achieve dignified housing and towns has not yet been achieved. It is not surprising then that his passing was announced by the national press and also, among others, by the Guardian in UK.

At Architects for Peace we were privileged to have Paul Pholeros twice generously share his knowledge, experience and dedication. He delivered presentations on the work of HealtHabitat in 2008 and 2012. In an AFP editorial, Eleanor Chapman described this work as “improving the housing of indigenous Australians living in marginalised remote communities, where existing houses often suffer from lack of funds for maintenance, overcrowding and poor fitness for purpose”.

Paul Pholeros will be immensely missed by the communities he worked with and by us.

More about Paul Pholeros’ work:

Anthony McInneny and Beatriz Maturana on behalf of Architects for Peace


Brazilian mine disaster: another tragic example of the failure of businesses

At the centre of this catastrophe is the urgent need for governments to have the wellbeing of their people at the forefront of their agenda. As stated by the Special Rapporteurs “this disaster serves as yet another tragic example of the failure of businesses to adequately conduct human rights due diligence to prevent human rights abuses.”

Source: United Nations - Human Rights

Portuguese version

GENEVA (25 November 2015) – Two United Nations independent experts on environment and toxic waste today called on the Government of Brazil and relevant businesses to take immediate action to protect the environment and health of communities at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in the wake of the catastrophic collapse of a tailing dam on 5 November 2015.

“This is not the time for defensive posturing,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, and the Special Rapporteur human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak. “It is not acceptable that it has taken three weeks for information about the toxic risks of the mining disaster to surface.”

“The steps taken by the Brazilian government, Vale and BHP Billiton to prevent harm were clearly insufficient. The Government and companies should be doing everything within their power to prevent further harm, including exposure to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals,” they stressed.

New evidence shows the collapse of a tailing dam belonging to a joint venture of Vale and BHP Billiton (Samarco Mining S.A.), which released 50 million tons of iron ore waste, contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in the river Doce. Hospitals in Mariana and Belo Horizonte, the capital city of Minas Gerais State have received several patients.

“The scale of the environmental damage is the equivalent of 20,000 Olympic swimming pools of toxic mud waste contaminating the soil, rivers and water system of an area covering over 850 kilometers,” Mr. Knox warned.

- See more at:


Valparaíso, puerto y montaña: un desafío [en] pendiente.

Image source: Verónica Maturana, Valparaiso 2014. 
WRITES: Beatriz Maturana

ABSTRACT/ "The following reflections are part of a seminar presented during the Sustainability Week (May, 2014), in the University of Chile. The seminar addressed the recent fire in Valparaíso, comparing it with the fire that affected part of the state of Victoria, Australia (February 7, 2009). Both fires are considered to be the most devastating events in the history of each country. The seminar worked with four questions, which helped guide the presentation and questioned certain premises. One of these premises was the notion that an urban scale issue can be solved at the housing level, which is a distorted use of the idea of sustainability. Comparing both cases, a notable issue is that both put an emphasis on housing solutions to address a much more critical problem, which was and still is a lack of planning."


La U. de Chile y la destrucción de Vicuña MacKenna 20: Conversación con el Arquitecto Miguel Lawner

The following article (in Spanish) discusses a controversial situation around the proposed demolition of a building of historic value (yet not declared heritage). This building belongs to the University of Chile, the most important public university in the country that as one of its principles, claims to be custodian of the history and heritage of the nation. Nevertheless, under the thin justification of "progress" and the satisfaction of the need for more space, the university is ready to demolish. The issue goes beyond the future of the building. It touches on values, it is about knowledge and understanding the importance of heritage and raises the question about to whom these buildings belong to (particularly when the "owner" is itself publicly owned).

La discusión en torno al nuevo proyecto para Vicuña Mackenna 20 (VM20), donde se propone la demolición del antiguo edificio, se ha manipulado al punto de crear la impresión de que solo pueden existen dos miradas, excluyentes la una de la otra.

El problema se nos presenta en la forma de dos bandos, o de una dicotomía artificial e intencionalmente impulsada. Por un lado, quienes están por la demolición, justifican esta en pos del "progreso" y de la necesidad de edificaciones para institutos y alumnos de la Universidad de Chile, hacia quienes la Universidad tiene deudas infraestructurales pendientes. Por otro lado, a quienes intentan salvar este edificio patrimonial (reconocido o no) se los demoniza haciéndolos parecer poco solidarios con las necesidades de los demás. Detrás de este discurso, existe otro incluso más perverso—un discurso ideológico y mutuamente excluyente con el que se supone que cada una de estas dos miradas se alinearían—. 
Fig. 1: uno de los patios de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Edificios que Miguel Lawner rescató de ser demolidos.
Por supuesto que ni una ni otra posición puede ser tan estrecha. Extraña además que sea la Universidad, o sus representantes, los que en forma directa o indirecta utilicen este tipo de simplificaciones, las que son notorias por promover la ignorancia y la descalificación de quienes piensan en forma distinta.


Event series - Our Homes, All Right? (Volume 1) movie night,Thursday 21 May 2015.

Dear friends,

Since completing our Strategic Plan last year, we have been focused on working towards our fourth goal: 'stand up for quality affordable housing and the right to shelter'.

In collaboration with Friends of Public Housing Victoria, Architects for Peace invites you to a film night: Our Homes, All Right? (Volume 1) to discuss the issue of transfers in public housing to non-government housing providers and its effect on public housing tenants. We hope you can join us!

Date: Thursday 21 May 2015
Time: 7 - 10pm
Venue: North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House
             20 Solly Avenue, Princes Hill VIC

Guest speaker Fiona Ross, spokesperson of Friends of Public Housing Victoria will present a talk on the effects of public housing transfers in Victoria. This will be followed by a screening of the film Rent Rebels / Mietrebellen (Germany) to look at gentrification and forced evictions in Berlin with public housing tenants fighting to stop the displacement of their community.

Light refreshments provided.
Gold coin donations are appreciated.

Check out our Facebook event here.
Entry is free, no RSVP required.

Event sponsor: ArchiTeam

We are looking forward to seeing you there!