arch-peace news and articles


2019 year in review


This year's steering committee was made up of:
President - Nicole Mechkaroff
Vice President - Eva Rodriguez Riestra
Secretary - Setareh Motlagh
Treasurer - Saumya Kaushik
Public Officer - Yang Bai
General Member - Tayyab Ahmed

We welcomed new volunteers to the team:
Anna Rowe (former volunteer returned)
Isabel Torres
Megan Spoor
Corinne Jutzler
Connor Forsyth
Alina Walizade
Edwina Swain

We had a team of advisers who offered advice and help during 2019:
Beatriz Maturana
Anthony McInneny
Peter Johns
Eleanor Chapman

Architects for Peace would like to thank all advisers and give a special mention to Peter Johns for his tremendous work in the management of the Architects for Peace website over the years. The volunteer team is very grateful for his generosity and we wish him all the best for the future.

2019 Theme
Coming into the 2019 year, Architects for Peace volunteers and members voiced their concerns about climate emergency and the urgent need for global and sustainable action. City redevelopment must be seen as a part of the solution for regenerating the earth's vulnerable condition and to improve the quality of life for all living things.

Architects for Peace was present in this year's Global Climate Strikes, attending several public demonstrations across Melbourne, Sydney and Santiago in particular. The scale of rallying in cities and towns showed a strong public demand for faster government and industry action to stop treating climate change as a problem on a long waiting list.

March 2019: Global Climate Strike - attended by members in Melbourne.
September 2019: Global Climate Strike - attended by members in Melbourne, Sydney and Santiago.
Global Climate Strike, Sydney. October 2019.
Global Climate Strike, Melbourne. October 2019.
Global Climate Strike, Santiago. October 2019.
Regional and country member contributions
Following on from organisational plans in 2018, Architects for Peace became a registered Australian body with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) in order to formalise its operations and develop volunteer branches across Australia. This year, volunteers in Melbourne and Sydney worked resourcefully and cooperatively to grow activity in promoting social justice for the public good. We provided more information to our readers, members and followers on social media and through newsletters.

International contributions to editorials and in competitions came from member representatives in Chile, Germany, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Australia in particular. A rich exchange of knowledge sharing occurred, reinforcing the value of international and interdisciplinary collaboration. One highlight included a submission for the City of Sydney's Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge with members in Australia, Germany and the UK upholding Architects for Peace's commitment to standing up for decent, affordable housing.

View our full proposal here

Sponsors and supporters
Architects for Peace would like to thank the City of Yarra Council for their sponsorship for the 2019 year. Their grant enabled our volunteers to host public talks and events.

Talks and events
The organisation was active with events in 2019. We diversified the ways in which we facilitated public discourse and sought to deepen levels of community engagement and participation, including interdisciplinary round table discussions, film screenings and working with the dialogue theatre methodology. Our events continued to receive high levels of attendance across multiple disciplines and professions, including: built environment professionals, members of Council, social scientists, environmentalists and artists. The City of Yarra grant enabled our skilled teams to promote events, expand and diversify our reach to new and local audiences, and build community and professional relationships for future activities.

There were two community events this year, as well as, one workshop series:

May - talk and film screening. Taskafa: Stories of the Street
Architects for Peace hosted this event at the Bargoonga Nganjin Library, North Fitzroy, Melbourne.
The screening of Taskafa showed an artist's essay about memory and the most necessary forms of belonging, both to a place and a history. We explored the relationship between urban street animals and their human populations.

Event manager: Anna Rowe
Guest speakers:
Claire Collie - Landscape Sociologist, PhD Candidate in Urban Planning - University of Melbourne
Elani Schmidt - Provisional Psychologist, Counsellor and Animal Therapist - Lead the Way
Anna Rowe - Urban Planner and volunteer at Bridging Lanka
Film maker - Andrea Luka Zimmerman

July - community engagement workshop. Clearance by Cappuccino
Free Theatre and Architects for Peace jointly hosted this community engagement workshop at Siteworks, Brunswick, Melbourne.
The forms of dialogue and theatre were used to explore the meaning and value of diverse and affordable housing for everybody in Melbourne.

Collaborators: Richard Barber (Free Theatre), Pongjit Saphakhun (Free Theatre), Nicole Mechkaroff (Architects for Peace).

August, September, October - acting workshops. Clearance by Cappuccino
Discussion, scripting and acting workshops
Discussion, scripting and acting workshops
Continuing on from the July community engagement workshop, this workshop series involved a deeper interaction with the dialogue theatre medium to work through imagined and real-life tensions and conflict that arise in achieving diverse and affordable housing. The ensemble did not reach the final performance stage but worked well through challenging and surprising conversations between different individuals during the scripting phase.

October - community engagement workshop. Greening the Blue: Urban Futures of Regeneration and Repair
Architects for Peace and Engineers Without Borders (Victoria Region) jointly hosted this event at the Collingwood Library Meeting Room, Abbotsford, Melbourne.
Guest speaker presentations
Dr. Chris Taylor's presentation on Forest Ecosystem Mapping and Analysis.
See full presentation here
Group and round table discussions
Key issues, actions and solutions
Held on World Cities Day, this community workshop called for critical discussion and action to regenerate cities and the Earth in emergency.

Event managers: Nicole Mechkaroff, Pauline Ng, Saumya Kaushik, Michelle Low
Guest speakers:
Dr. Chris Taylor - Research Fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
Jess Hutchison - Extinction Rebellion
Andrew George - Extinction Rebellion
Bianca Anderson - Engineers Without Borders

We showed support for and promoted a number of talks and initiatives aligning with Architects for Peace's vision, values and theme:

Local Projects Challenge, Accelerating the SDGs - City Maker Survey, by University Columbia.
The Global Refugee Crisis: The Role of Built Environment Professionals, as part of the UTZON lecture series, University of New South Wales - with Brett Moore.
Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet, University of Sydney - with Elle Kransy.
Architects Declare (Australia) petition.

In Melbourne, volunteers held two social and volunteer recruitment nights in March and August.

News, editorials and interviews
This year's news, editorials and communications teams made our news feeds more dynamic and diverse with information. Architects for Peace will continue to seek opportunities to receive further editorial contributions. Some highlight editorials, articles, interviews and news published and shared this year include:

Walled City of Lahore by Waleed Shakeel (editorial); 
Interview with Dr. Ralene West on regulatory barriers for accessibility in the built environment;
Energy Overlays - Civic Art for a Circular Economy by Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monian (article); 
Sharing the City as a Commons can create stronger, inclusive communities by Darren Sharp (editorial); 
National Volunteer Week reflections by Architects for Peace volunteers (editorial);
Dandaji Daily Market / atelier masomi curated by Matheus Periera (published by Arch Daily) (article); 
A New Built Environment Paradigm Needed! by Mary Ann Jackson (editorial); 
Melbourne's Renewal and Homelessness: Urban Space, Erasure and Redemption by Claire Collie (article, published by Meanjin Quarterly).

Social Media
We have 27,970 Facebook followers, consisting of 51% women and 48% men, mostly between 25-34 years of age. There was an increase in the number of followers by approximately 303 people. This year, our fans were mainly from Iran followed by Australia, India, United Stated and Italy. The most popular languages are English followed by Spanish, French and Italian.

This year we were moderately active on our LinkedIn page and LinkedIn group which resulted in a small increase in the number of followers on our LinkedIn company page to 367, and LinkedIn group page to 580.

This year we reached over 1300 followers and shared more diverse types of news and information to connect with our international community.

Pro-bono service
As part of our commitment to support pro-bono work, we supported the work of Bridging Lanka and their Mannar Kulam Rehabilitation Program.

Collaborations and contributions
2019 was a very successful year in terms of approaching different groups and individuals and advocating for design for the public good. We were able to gain interest and build strong relationships and hope that some of these may lead to longer term collaborations. These activities included:

- Repeat collaboration with Engineers Without Borders for 'Greening the Blue' workshop;
- Collaboration with Free Theatre group in 'Clearance by Cappuccino' workshops;
- Competition submission for the City of Sydney's Alternative Housing Ideas Challenge - a collaboration between Nicole Mechkaroff (Australia), Megan Spoor (United Kingdom), Eva Rodriguez Riestra (Australia), Eleanor Chapman (Germany).

The management and administrative function of the Architects for Peace website was handed over to Beatriz Maturana (Architects for Peace founder), and she will continue to administer the website in future.

Plans for 2020
Given the social demands for increased response and action to climate emergency, Architects for Peace will continue it's activities to ensure there is further debate and education among built environment professionals. In addition, some key actions for the 2020 year include:
- Submitting the quadrennial report to the UN Economic and Social Council;
- Continuing to partner and collaborate with other, similar organisations and individuals;
- Seeking ongoing opportunities to share interdisciplinary, multilingual news.

President's note
With 2019 being my last year as President, I would like to thank the incredible volunteers whose support, contribution and friendship have made ethical outcomes in this organisation a reality. I am pleased to have seen so much accomplished over the years, and there is more work to do in supporting urban development and re-construction that is sustainable, socially just and promotes peace.

Nicole Mechkaroff
Architects for Peace President, 2019


End of Year Celebration!

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.

2019 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 on Friday 13th December, from 6.30pm to 10.00pm, at the Edinburgh Gardens. Find a drink and join us in the evening sun. We’ll be outside, with an array of yummy nibbles to share!

From the Architects for Peace team, Melbourne.


Melbourne's Renewal and Homelessness: Urban Space, Erasure and Redemption

Source: published by Meanjin Quarterly, written by Claire Collie, October 2 2019

"Earlier this year I was asked to speak at an Architects for Peace event in Melbourne, where they screened Andrea Luka Zimmerman's Taskafa: Stories of the Street (2013). This film, or 'documentary essay' as Zimmerman calls it, is loosely based on John Berger's novel King: A Street Story. Zimmerman herself describes this book as 'a story of hope, dreams, love and resistance, told from the perspective of a dog belonging to a community facing disappearance, even erasure.'"

Continue reading: Meanjin Quarterly here.

Image: Claire Collie speaking at the Architects for Peace screening of Taskafa: Stories of the Street


Cities and the Ethical Turn: Cities and Climate Change

Published by CitiesProgramme on 

Pictured: The Metro Station University of Chile, the most extensive Metro Network in South America, powered by 60% renewable energy. Sadly 80 stations have been destroyed in the recent protests. About Santiago’s Metro.
Author: Beatriz Maturana

The words ethics and cities have recently been combined by philosophers and urbanists to focus on a turn towards sustainability in the urban century. Climate Change charges this turn with an alarming urgency. While we know that there is no single solution to meet this challenge, today it is recognized that cities have the capacity, resources and ability to find solutions within the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  As stated by the C40 organization, “the outcome of climate change begins in the cities”.
In Chile, our National Urban Development Policy, Sustainable Cities and Quality of Life (NUDP 2014), lays the foundations and guidelines for the improvement of our cities in not only in their physical but also cultural aspects and in pursuit of sustainable objectives. In this way, we want to highlight the significant role of cities and their ability to improve the conditions of the planet and the lives of its inhabitants. This policy is based in the “conviction that our cities and populated centres could be much better than they are if, as Chileans, we agree on some fundamental aspects that govern its formation and development”.

Why Cities?

The NUDP places the urban issue as a “national theme” and a key pillar for our development. The policy objectives of quality of life and sustainability force us to urgently face the challenges of climate change.
  • 70% of cities are already suffering the effects of climate change and 90% of all urban settlements that are located on the coastal edges. It will be these settlements and among them the poorest, that are first affected by the rise in the level of the oceans.
  • Of the 9 criteria of vulnerability to climate change, Chile and its cities meet 7 of these: Low-lying coastal areas; Arid zones and Forest zones; Territory susceptible to natural disasters; Urban areas with air pollution; Areas prone to drought and desertification; Mountainous Ecosystems. [1]
  • Changes that affect the water supply will impact more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities today. [2]
  • In the case of Chile, 87% of its population lives in cities, and its capital city faces the effects of desertification.

How can cities, which are considered as a source of the problem, be re-thought as the source of a solution to climate change?

To discuss these issues and to better prepare us to face the challenges imposed by climate change, we will hold a day of forums, talks and interdisciplinary round tables. We will discuss the key aspects that, in line with our urban policies, highlight the urgency and allow a refocus and reassessment of the guidelines to strengthen our commitment to sustainable cities and quality of life. A report will be produced at the conclusion of the seminar.
In the wake of the October demonstrations Chile’s world standing as host for COP25 has shifted from its credentials of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 to be the epicentre of the people’s movement for social justice. In the process, our cities and our urban conviviality have been severely wounded by vandalism at an infrastructural scale and civil disorder in widespread looting and arson. In this democratic republic, the institution of government is steering solutions to long due social justice issues that had not been met by governments of various tendencies for the last three decades of economic growth. With COP25 at our doorstep, the attention must draw together the social, the urban and the challenge of climate change.
The seminar ‘Cities and the Ethical Turn: Cities and Climate Change’ endorsed by COP25 will run on December 10.
Dr. Beatriz Maturana is a Cities Programme Global Advisor, an Adjunct Professor of the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Associate Professor at the Institute of History and Heritage, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU), University of Chile and the founder of Architects for Peace. Her teaching is in the areas of sustainable urban development & heritage, and interventions in public space and undertaking research on urban social integration. Beatriz graduated in Architecture at RMIT University, later undertook a Master of Urban Design and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. In Australia she practised as an architect, urban designer, and taught at RMIT, Monash and University of Melbourne.

[1] Ministerio del Medio Ambiente. (2019). Simulaciones Climáticas.
[2] Plan de Adaptación al cambio climático para ciudades 2018-2022, 6/2018 (MMA, MINVU 2018).

Original Publication in UN's Global Compact Cities Programme:

Note: this text was written before the Chilean Government had to decide to move COP25 to Madrid, given the situation in the country, and before the team preparing the University´s conference decided to postpone the event for the same reasons. 


Greening the Blue: urban futures of regeneration and repair

A community workshop about urbanisation and climate justice.

by Nicole Mechkaroff

It has been a week since our community workshop at the Collingwood Library Meeting Room which was jointly convened by Architects for Peace and Engineers Without Borders. The issues of environmental crisis, urban growth and climate justice have been central concerns to Architects for Peace this year and participants on the night of the workshop were very proactive in identifying issues, actions and solutions responsive to these.

We were joined by guest presenters Dr. Chris Taylor from the Australian National University, Jess Hutchison and Andrew George from Extinction Rebellion (Victoria), and Bianca Anderson from Engineers Without Borders, who put forward various arguments to acknowledge climate emergency including: landscape disturbance patterns across Victoria's forests and incidences of high-severity fire, the meaning of democracy and empowerment in self-organising assemblies targeting (climate) emergency, and self-transformation processes for being morally accountable in times of rapid environmental change.

There was attendance by local Council, scientists, academics and professionals in the built environment, sustainability strategists, activists, and the general community. A collective round-table and whole of group discussion led to the identification of the following:

Issues pertaining to climate crisis:
  • Human ideologies of consumption exceed the Earth's sustainable productivity;
  • 'Vital sign' indicators of a stressed eco-system are being ignored: i.e. diminishing water supplies, loss of rich biodiverse eco-systems from deforestation, animal extinction;
  • Climate change is happening faster than adaptations in human thinking and action;
  • Most people feel disconnected from natural eco-systems and don't see an urgency in societal transformation;
  • First Nations Elders' wisdom and knowledge is not being heard;
  • Data marginalisation and exclusion;
  • Competitive market-values dominate processes of modernisation and urban/regional development.

Necessary actions and solutions:
  • Grow a support system for First Nations peoples and their critical role in environmental conservation: embed Elders' wisdom into constitution and public documents, incorporate First Nations meeting style (yarning circles) into meetings;
  • Expand whole-of-life cycle principles and best practice to have a greater impact on industry. 'Industry leaders' to be held accountable for choices regarding embodied and operational resource use. Lobby to transform these into mandatory requirements instead of a 'premium option';
  • Subsidies and incentives to promote more sustainable development and consumption choices;
  • Criminalise moral negligence;
  • Realise the opportunity in the power of the people for collective positive action - with a gradual change in mindset;
  • Shift tax burden to the use of non-renewable energy and natural resources;
  • Form strategic alliances for and build capacity for action;
  • Personify the issue;
  • As civil society we must be willing to sit at someone else's table;
  • Decouple work and income - a new economic framework.
Many thanks to Chris, Jess, Andrew and Bianca, and all who attended and generously contributed on the night. 

Dr. Chris Taylor has shared a copy his presentation from the night which you can view here:
Forest Ecosystem Mapping and Analysis - An Overview

Image: Dr. Chris Taylor, Australian National University

Image: Jess Hutchison and Andrew George, Extinction Rebellion

Image: Bianca Anderson, Engineers Without Borders


All images are credited to Isabel Torres, Architects for Peace volunteer