Future Heritage Lab Devises Creative Responses to Humanitarian Crises

Associate Professor Azra Akšamija, Art, Culture & Technology Program, MIT Department of Architecture, first visited the Al Azraq refugee camp in Jordan in 2016. “Once I saw [the camp], I couldn’t unsee it,” she says. “I thought we really needed to do something there.” Her impulse to help alleviate the suffering of people displaced—or otherwise traumatized—by the atrocities of war informed a range of artistic, educational and research projects and inspired the creation of the  MIT Future Heritage Lab (FHL) within the School of Architecture and Planning.

The Future Heritage Lab (FHL) explores creative responses to conflict and crisis through artistic collaborations across borders, culturally sensitive design and experiments in cultural preservation. In the context of the humanitarian crisis, the lab develops projects at the intersection of art, culture and technology to address the emotional, cultural, and practical needs of communities in threat. Since its launch in 2015, FHL has implemented five large-scale participatory global art projects; developed three MIT graduate courses; and established a global network of collaborators in the arts, education and humanitarian aid. 

Now FHL is in the process of launching its satellite hub in the Al Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. This space is produced in collaboration with local artists, designers and academics from Amman and from the Al Azraq camp. The objective is to advance the education of refugees and MIT and German-Jordanian University (GJU) students through multi-directional knowledge exchange, foster a better understanding between cultures, and advance the competencies of humanitarian aid from the perspective of art and design.

-- Read the full story by Sharon Lacey at Arts at MIT, February 12, 2018.

Images: Lightweaver, Future Heritage Lab, 2017