Design Week Portland: Color My Home
Saturday, April 18, 2020 - 10:00am to Saturday, April 18, 2020 - 3:00pm
Design Week Portland: Color My Home

Shattuck Hall, Room 210
1914 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97201

According to UN Refugee Agency, 70.8 million people all over the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of political, economic, and environmental crises. On one hand, such unprecedented displacement causes refugees and new immigrants to lose their most intimate and safe spaces, and on the other hand, backlash from the hosting countries against these vulnerable individuals prevents them from creating their new home, integrating with and thriving in the new community.

There is an effort underway to promote socially conscious practice among architects and expand the role of architects to address innovative methods of inclusion for the underrepresented communities. The Color My Home project includes a series of workshops, originally proposed and executed by Yasaman Esmaili, founder of Studio Chahar, and Rania Qawasma, founder of Architecture for Refugees.

In 2020, Portland State University School of Architecture, which has a strong background in multicultural design initiatives and service-learning programs, launched a collaborative project to create a better environment for, with, and by the refugees. The outcome of the Color My Home workshops will be incorporated into a third-year architecture design studio course.

The workshop guides recently immigrated children and adults to re-imagine the architecture they have previously inhabited and left behind, and to build architectural collages of what they recall. Participants will also write poems about their homes and transform their memories of home into tangible artwork by building their first-ever architectural collage. The visuals and poetry help share experiences that might otherwise be difficult for children to express between languages. Further communications are in progress with potential collaborators, including chapters of Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) in Portland, which may improve this project and facilitate its execution.