Beyond Shelter hopes to “stir a passion for reform.” It asks architects to claim responsibility for protecting people during natural disasters and shaping policy and rebuilding efforts after humanitarian crises—events that affect nearly 200 million people, mostly in the developing world. “There is still no career path that prepares students to work as urgentistes-design professionals who intervene at a crucial moment in the recovery process to produce enduring solutions,” writes Marie J. Aquilino, Beyond Shelter’s editor and a professor of architectural history at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris.
The 25 “reports” - case studies, really - written by architects (such as Deborah Gans and Teddy Cruz) and leaders of nonprofits, research centers, and international agencies (including Victoria Harris, who runs Article 25) highlight where things have gone right when architects have swooped in, acted as advocates, cultural preservationists, negotiators, and design visionaries. In the best entries, they also explain the challenges and failures. Unfortunately, the writing from multiple contributors is uneven. Some entries sound like marketing material for the organization that led the project. In a book where the premise is that people are suffering across the globe and architects wield enormous power to mitigate that suffering, the editor should have limited the repetition of that sentiment. We get it. Tell us how you got it done.