From Camp to City: Urban Design and Refugees

Join us to discuss refugee housing and settlements from an urban design point of view.

Event Details


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


February 18, 2017 from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



Instead of being considered places of misery, how can refugee camps become spaces of social emancipation for their inhabitants? 

At this event, Basel-based architect and designer of the Everyone a Humanitarian space, Manuel Herz, explores the role of housing and urban planning in the context of forced displacement and emergencies. Challenging the predominant view of refugee camps as either purely humanitarian or dystopian, he investigates how people live, dwell, work, and enjoy themselves in these informal exterritorial spaces. 

Herz questions the role of NGOs and other humanitarian actors in this context, and addresses the dichotomy of temporary versus permanent, one of the core issues in the context of refugee settlements.

Special guests include students from the Swiss School of Engineering and Business Vaud (HEIG-VD) and Swiss Alumni from the Bay Area.

Music by Griffin Crafts.


6:00pm – Doors open

6:30pm – Keynote by Manuel Herz and Q&A session

7:30pm – Food, music and networking


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).


Photo: Courtesy of Manuel Herz

Event Photos