Who Builds Your Architecture?

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In a recent Guardian interview Zaha Hadid claimed “I have nothing to do with the workers” constructing her al-Wakrah stadium in Doha. The stadium is one of many being designed and build in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Zaha goes on to say ”I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it’s a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I think there are discrepancies all over the world.”

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A story by Cynthia Gorney in National Geographic Magazine about the lives of guest workers far from home.

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This short video highlights many of the issues surrounding migrant labor and World Cup construction in Qatar. It was put together by the International Trade Union Confederation as part of their Re-Run the Vote campaign.

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As part of GulfLabor’s “52 Weeks” campaign, WBYA? proposes expanding human rights standards in the AIA Code of Ethics document. For more on the campaign, visit GulfLabor. More on our submission after the break.

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A recent article in the New York Times by Omer Aziz and Murtaza Hussain on labor rights violations at building sites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar.

 

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Mabel Wilson and Jordan Carver will be participating in a round table presentation and discussion at the 2014 Global South Asia Conference at NYU. The panel, “Who Builds Your Happiness” is organized by the GulfLabor Coalition and will take place on Sunday, February 16 at the Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK) at 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor. The conference is free and open to the public.

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WBYA 2.0, Who Builds Your Architecture? Part 2: Sustainability and Sustaining Human Life from Vera List Center on Vimeo.

WBYA? 2.0 was held at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School on April 22, 2013.

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WBYA? 2.0 took place on April 22, 2013 and featured a diverse group of architects, artists, educators and human rights activists. Raphael Sperry, President, Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) was unable to attend in person, but has contributed a short video response on the theme.

WBYA? 2.0 Raphael Sperry Video Response from Jordan Carver on Vimeo.

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The contradiction between an architect’s drawing and construction sites that make it real is an important topic in Brazilian debates, at least since the construction of our capital, Brasília. That was the moment when the modern city’s production changed from disperse to concentrated—from geographical, symbolic and material points of view. There, more than in any other situation before, there was a huge mobilization of the imaginary and national interests around the design of a new city/civilization to be built according to the most modern precepts, by the boldest and most renowned architects and by tens of thousands of invisible workers. Those workers, called “candangos” were in fact landless peasants from the Brazilian Northeast that went to the center of the country looking for a promised land, and that’s how the building of the new capital was presented to them.

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Three of the Western world’s premier cultural institutions—New York University, the Guggenheim and the Louvre—are in various stages of setting up shop on Sa’adiyat (“Happiness”) Island in Abu Dhabi, forming what has been described as a “highbrow cultural theme park” in the desert city-state. The deals that the Guggenheim and NYU cut with the emir are not news. Petro-potentates started collecting liberal institutions as the latest Western must-have a decade ago.

What is news is the silence around last month’s 2013 Human Rights Watch report claiming that the human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates (of which Abu Dhabi is a city-state) “deteriorated rapidly” in 2012.

So far, none of the bastions of Western tolerance have had much to say about that, or, for that matter, the previous annual reports detailing how laborers in the UAE are indentured servants, women have barely more rights than farm animals and political dissent leads directly to jail, sometimes by way of torture.

More at the New York Observer.

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