Children, War, Play in Civil War Syria Research Project

Afield co-director Kai Wood Mah participated in a Montréal design charrette culminating with a playground design for internally-displaced children in Syria. The playground will be built in Camp Ariha with funds raised by event co-sponsor Je veux jouer, a Syrian-Canadian NGO that describes itself as a “movement and community." Architectes de L’Urgence et de la Coopération (Emergency Architects) and the Université du Quebéc à Montréal's Design Centre co-hosted the charrette.

The interdisciplinary team assembled in Montréal reiterated the urgency of attending to the unique needs of children in emergency situations. This especially proves to be the case since play spaces are often viewed as a kind of add-on even by humanitarian organizations dedicated to child wellbeing. Children in camp environments require—like all children—playground designs that encourage full movement and foster creative play. Beyond this, though, spaces like the space that will be built in Camp Ariha must have, amongst other things, tailored soundscapes that offer respite from the realities of war.

Mah along with Afield co-director Patrick Lynn Rivers will deliver a paper on the charrette and the needs of children in emergency situations at the Everyday Humanitarianism conference in April 2016 at the London School of Economics. The paper titled “Economies of Humanitarian Architecture” will extensively utilize design ethnography as methodology.