Azra Aksamija

Azra Aksamija, an artist and architectural historian, is Director and Founder of the MIT Future Heritage Lab (FHL) and Associate Professor in the MIT Department of Architecture and the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology.

  • Design to Live

    Design to Live

    Everyday Inventions from a Refugee Camp

    Azra Aksamija, Raafat Majzoub, and Melina Philippou

    The power of art and design to create a life worth living: designs, inventions, and artworks from the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan.

    This book shows how refugees use art and design to transform their living environments, restoring humanity within circumstances that seem aimed at depriving them of it. Featuring more than twenty projects created by Syrian refugees at the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, Design to Live offers a new way of understanding design as a subversive worldmaking practice and as tool for reclaiming agency in conditions of forced displacement. The projects—including a vertical garden, an arrangement necessitated by regulations that forbid planting on the ground; a front hall, fashioned to protect privacy; a baby swing, made from recycled school desks; and a chess set, carved from broomsticks—showcase the discrepancy between standardized humanitarian design and the real sociocultural needs of refugees.

    This bilingual book in English and Arabic documents designs by refugees through architectural drawings, illustrations, photographs, and texts by the camp residents, humanitarian workers, and researchers who collaborated on the book across cultural and disciplinary borders. Design to Live is the product of a three-year joint project of the MIT Future Heritage Lab and the Syrian refugees at the Azraq Refugee Camp, supported by CARE-Jordan and the German Jordanian University.

    • Paperback $29.95