Sarine Vosgueritchian

Architect, Urban Designer

Sarine is an architect, archivist, and urban designer, currently pursuing a Master’s degree in architecture and urbanism. Her interests lie in uncovering the intersection between the history of urban development in Armenia and the ecological and environmental issues surrounding these projects today. She is passionate about sustainable development and community building and is currently exploring them through working on an affordable housing project in Lebanon as a research assistant at MIT. In the past, she has practiced architecture and run the architectural archives at the American University of Beirut, her alma mater where she received her bachelor's in architecture (BArch ‘18).

Affordable housing is a right that everyone should have access to. The community of East Boston is faced with numerous threats when it comes to access to affordable and safe housing. Gentrification is contaminating the neighborhood more and more every year, driving up land and building value, and with it, hiking up rent prices. Moreover, the imminent threat of flooding in East Boston is severe and needs to be taken seriously when it comes to designing new affordable homes in East Boston.

The Community Land Trust model has been tried and tested in many parts of Boston, yet hasn’t made its way into the East Boston Neighborhood. This document is a resource that can be used by members of the
East Boston community, organizations, or anyone interested in understanding the potential of having a Community Land Trust in East Boston. Its purpose is to understand the urgency and need for affordable housing, but also to spark ideas, create aspirations, and invite the community to explore opportunities. Folded into the document is a Choose Your Own Adventure Poster aimed to be used as an interactive tool by the community.
Half A Mile Under Texan Sun
My project tackles two interrelated issues that are present in Second Ward – heat and walkability. The global warming and climate crisis are progressively worsening, and their effects have already changed the way residents of the neighborhood interact with the urban fabric. Although the neighborhood is close knit demographically, public and community centers are quite dispersed. Coupled with the lack of shading and introverted dispersed architecture, residents are not encouraged to walk to these programs, instead reverting to the convenience of cars. The Esplanade park is an initiative on Navigation boulevard that has improved walkability in the west end of the neighborhood and I aim to learn from it and incorporate its model in other parts of Second Ward. Moreover, cooling centers are missing in the neighborhood, and so, residents who don’t have air conditioning in their homes don’t have safe havens to resort to when the need arises. I aim to mitigate these issues through shaded pathways connecting these communal programs and identifying prime locations for the implementation of cooling centers in the neighborhood.
When cities and population in the USSR were growing, they decided to build nuclear power plants where civilization was thriving and at the farthest corners of the empire. The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the new closed city of Metsamor, Armenia was one of them. The power plant was planned in 1968 by Soviet engineers and the city was designed and planned completely from scratch by Armenian Architect, Martin Mikhaelyan. The fate of the city has always been linked to the power plant in every aspect; the city can exist without the power plant but as I will explain below, this can lead to catastrophe. That said, can the power plant exist without the city? Can infrastructure exist without the people building it, feeding it, and serving it through labor and time? Several environmental and political disasters have had a direct effect on the functioning of the NPP and further, the existence of the city. After the 1988 Spitak earthquake and growing Green Movements in Armenia, the power plant was decommissioned. Several years later, the fall of the USSR and the Nagorno-Karabakh war led to the closing of Azerbaijan’s borders which resulted in an energy crisis in Armenia. Four years later, one of the two nuclear reactors were reactivated, as the government saw it as the best solution to the energy crisis. Today, the power plant is still functioning, beyond its initially planned life span and the question of its existence is looming, the city is in limbo.
Kutahya’s art of ceramics was subjected to several political and economic forces that led to its movement and re-establishment in Jerusalem. My research explores the establishment of ceramic arts in Kutahya toward the end of the 19th century and its movement and eventual disappearance from Kutahya, due to the forced deportation of the skilled artisans who embodied this knowledge and practice out of Ottoman Armenia. It was due to Tavit Ohannessian’s—the master ceramicist’s—survival that the art was eventually re-establishment in Jerusalem. His granddaughter’s, Sato Moughalian’s, research and narration of Ohannessian’s story in “Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian,” has been a crucial source for my research. Several mechanisms of survival were employed during the forced exile and massacres of Armenians, one being the participation in the construction of the Baghdadbahn as workers which although was unfinished during the first World War, was used as the route of exile for hundreds of thousands of Armenians making their way across their nation towards the desert of Deir Zor in Syria. As the participation in the building of the infrastructure to secure a safe passage during exodus became a means for survival, so did the mastery of crafts after the end of their exile. The monastery of St. James in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem was an established institution and conduit for pilgrims, but in 1915, its role switched to a humanitarian-focused channel for Armenian refugees and the embodied skills that they brought to the city. Years of assistance from the monastery allowed Ohannessian to re-open his own atelier in Jerusalem, which in addition to creating decorative vases and tiles, worked on several architectural and decorative projects in Palestine and around the world. The 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the eventual partition of Palestine forced Ohannessian and his growing family to move, each member being scattered to a new country due to diverse circumstances. The ceramic arts of Kutahya lost its home once again, but as Ohannessian’s story ended, his legacy continued through the artistic flourishes that he left behind and the stories and archives cherished and carried on by his grandchildren.
Learning from Foucault, this project explores the topic of the medicalization of the city through the case study of Mumbai by comparing three epidemics the city has and continues to face – the bubonic Plague, Tuberculosis, and Covid-19. It looks at different aspects of the city that led to the spread of these epidemics but also at the changes they have led to within the city on the urban, architectural, infrastructural, and socio-economic level.
The Shared City: Houston Studio Publication