Everyone a Humanitarian

The swissnex Gallery turns into a humanitarian hub where technologists, creatives, diplomats, entrepreneurs, and innovators explore new collaborative forms of humanitarian action.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


January 28, 2017 1:00 pm - April 01, 2017 4:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



The duration, scale, and complexity of humanitarian crises are reaching unprecedented levels. The “Everyone a Humanitarian” exhibition and event series takes a step back from traditional emergency response to explore new collaborative forms of humanitarian action, harnessing the innovation potential of local communities, citizens, international organizations, academia, and the private sector for long-term impact on the ground.

From January 28 to March 31, the swissnex Gallery on Pier 17 turns into a humanitarian hub with various activities connecting Silicon Valley and Switzerland to humanitarian contexts across the globe. The program imagines how a future rich with advanced technologies and deeper relationships with affected populations will transform the way the world responds to crises.

Everyone a Humanitarian is developed in partnership with Jonathan Robinson, Co-Founder & Director, Civic, and Humanitarian Innovation Specialist Joseph Guay. The swissnex team includes Benjamin Bollmann (project lead, Head of Science Programs and University Affairs), and Andrina Beuggert, Mercator Fellow on Humanitarian Innovation.

Contact: YOUmanitarian@nullswissnexsf.org

A Humanitarian Hub

For the “Everyone a Humanitarian” exhibition, the swissnex Gallery becomes an open space for exchange, collaboration, and ideas on the future of humanitarian action. Imagine a mash up of an Arabian living room, village square, and tech incubator–a place for doing more together than we can alone. A place for unlikely allies to become partners–talk together, dream together, work together–crossing borders and disciplines. 

Every weekday from 1-5pm, enter swissnex, remove your shoes, and take a seat on an enormous carpet conceived by architect and refugee camp specialist Manuel Herz. Discover intricate floor patterns featuring quotes from fundamental treaties in humanitarian action, such as the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Use the ground as workspace, meeting room, coffee house, and public library. Engage with people and content, and enrich the space with your own needs, ideas, and expertise.


Manuel Herz

Manuel Herz is an architect with his own practice in Basel, Switzerland, and Cologne, Germany, and a professor of architectural and urban design at the University of Basel. He studied at the RWTH Aachen and at the Architectural Association in London. After teaching at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London, at the Berlage Institute, Rotterdam, and at Harvard Graduate School of Design alongside Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, he was head of teaching and research at ETH Studio Basel and a visiting professor at ETH Zurich.

Manuel does research and publishes on the relationship between architecture and nation building, and on refugee camps. He curated the Pavilion of the Western Sahara at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. His books include “From Camp to City—The Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara” (Lars Müller Publishers) and “African Modernism—Architecture of Independence” (Park Books Publishers).


Hear short interviews with humanitarian actors in our “Everyone a Humanitarian” podcast series, produced by This Wachter for swissnex San Francisco.
Portraits by Patrick Züst for swissnex San Francisco.

Ep. 1: Philippe Sion, FSG
Ep. 2: Barbara Moser-Mercer and Erin Hayba, InZone
Ep. 3: Katya Cherukumilli, UC Berkeley
Ep. 4: Marc Nelson, Stanford Peace Innovation Lab
Ep. 5: Doris Schopper, UNIGE and CERAH
Ep. 6: Jonathan Keats, Experimential Philosopher
Ep. 7: Erika Barraza, Singularity University
Ep. 8: Jennifer MacCann, World Vision’s Nepal Earthquake Response
Ep. 9: Rakesh Bharania, CISCO Tactical Operations
Ep. 10: Julia Glosemeyer, Refugee Transitions
Ep. 11: Dr. Silvia Hostettler, EPFL
Ep. 12: Tara O’Shea, Planet Labs
Ep. 13: Joseph Guay, Innovation Consultant


Related events

Everyone a Humanitarian Launch Night
Dec. 08, 2016, 6:30pm – 10:30pm

Humanitarian Action 101
Jan. 28, 2017

How Can Businesses Respond to the Refugee Crisis?
February 9, 2017

From Camp to City: Urban Design and Refugees
February 17, 2017

Humanitarian Diplomacy Lab: Open Situation Room
March 22, 2017

Humanitarian Diplomacy Lab: Global Pitch Night
March 22, 2017

Crisis Signals: The Future of Humanitarian Data
March 30, 2017


Stay tuned for further event announcements and details.

Photo: Courtesy Jonathan Ledgard, Redline-EPFL and Norman Foster Foundation

Event Photos