Graduate Architecture

Posted November 15, 2019

Weitzman Students Participate in Hackathon to Address Global Refugee Crisis

Graduate Architecture students from the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design participated in a day long design charette called “hackathon for good,” hosted by USA for UNHCR and the innovation hub New Lab, in Brooklyn on October 26.

The event brought together architecture students, architects, urban planners, and civil engineers to develop new solutions to improve the lives of refugees around the world.

Eighteen students from Associate Professor Franca Trubiano’s seminar, Matter + Energy, Building in Crisis: Climate Change and Refugee Housing, participated in devising solutions for some of the most pressing design problems faced by architects today.

The seminar and charette are focused on the design and construction of shelter in a time of climate crisis.

Faced with the most extreme of conditions, needed are smart, informed, and critical strategies for re-building the most primal of structures—that is, the home. There is no more time to plan, wait, and hope. Architects must participate in developing innovative solutions, building products, and construction strategies for solving the problem of shelter in a time of environmental crisis. According to the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), millions of people are already on the move because of climate hazards. And every time a family moves, shelter is needed.

As stated by USA for UNHCR: “A record 70.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict or persecution. Less than 1 percent of the world's refugees are ever resettled, and those who are, often face challenges adjusting in their new home countries. USA for UNHCR’s innovation lab, The Hive, utilizes data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and emerging technologies to change the conversation around the global refugee crisis in the United States.”

The hackathon took place at New Lab headquarters in the Brooklyn Navy Yard — home to over 140 startups utilizing frontier technologies to positively impact the human experience.