Thursday, 6th, 4-5.20pm, Georges C. Marshall Center

Thinking Today’s Crisis Through Design

Moderated by Susan Taylor Leduc, Dean of Parsons Paris

What design can do for refugees

Dagan Cohen, What Design Can Do : Refugee Challenge


Amsterdam based design platform What Design Can Do (WDCD), IKEA Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have initiated the WDCD Refugee Challenge: a global design competition calling on designers and creative thinkers to come up with innovative ideas to improve the reception and integration of refugees. The open call ended on 20 May 2016 with the staggering number of 631 entries from 70 countries.

On 1 July Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders revealed the winning concepts, selected by an international jury, at the WDCD Conference in Amsterdam.

Now WDCD and its partners are embarking on the second and most important phase of the Challenge: the WDCD Accelerator, in which the five winning teams receive a €10.000 production budget and the expert guidance to develop their ideas into viable products, services or programs and possibly start-ups.

In his talk, challenge leader Dagan Cohen will elaborate on why WDCD initiated this competition, what the process was like, highlight the five winning ideas and share his thoughts on the role design can play in addressing urgent societal issues.


Dagan Cohen is a cultural entrepreneur specialized in audience engagement related to social and cultural topics. He is founder and director of Upload Cinema, an organization that researches online video culture and produces curated video programs for cinemas, museums, festivals and TV. Dagan is also co-founder a of, a Dutch language blog about inspiring initiatives for a better world and teacher of branding at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. He has been involved with What Design Can Do since 2011 and is currently leader of the WDCD Refugee Challenge.

Dagan studied environmental design at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. He was co-founder and creative director of renowned ‘restaurant for all senses’ The Supperclub and has worked as a (digital) creative director for different advertising agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Ammirati Puris Lintas, Lowe & Draft and Draftcb. He has won numerous national and international awards for his advertising work.


Le Modèle urbain de la jungle, by Cyrille Hanappe, ENSAPB


Informal cities, jungles, precarious habitats, camps, ghettos, slums, and favelas are part of an ever-growing urban model that joins together all issues related to sustainable development and human well being, including ecology, environment, economy and society. Nearly a third of the world’s population, roughly 2 billion people, will be living in these spaces by the year 2030. As of today, more than 75 million people have been forcefully displaced and live in over 1,000 major camps and a multitude of smaller ones. The “Forum” of Calais, also known as the “Jungle”, shelters over 10,000 people, the equivalent of a city like Saint-Rémy-de-Provence or Briançon. Rather than categorically considering the ‘Jungle’ as nothing more than a horrible place that must be destroyed, we should “learn from Calais” and not commit another urbicide. How should we accommodate and greet those who have fled their countries, houses, and families because of war, slaughter, and extreme poverty? Now that they are here, they have arrived and have built shelters to try and reconstruct their lives. This is an urban and human accomplishment, the creation of a living space. How can we understand this phenomenon better to help improve the lives and sense of dignity of its inhabitants?


Cyrille Hanappe graduated with a degree in architecture from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris Belleville (ENSAPB) and a degree in engineering from the École Centrale de Nantes. Currently, he is Program Director for the specialized degree in risk management architecture at ENSAPB. In addition, he is President of the association Actes & Cités, which aims to restore dignity by improving living conditions.

Hanappe’s work in the domain of risk management initially led him abroad to study informal housing and camps in Haïti, Peru, and Japan. However, the outbreak of this urban phenomenon in France led him to specialize in spaces geographically closer to him and therefore easier to study at length. His work in these territories is twofold; it first consists of researching the sites of implantation, their inhabitants, ways of life, and the surrounding territory. Later, if requested by the inhabitants, Cyrille Hanappe works with the association Actes & Cités and its staff of volunteer students to build small service buildings on site. In the past they have built a bathroom, collective kitchen, and meeting hall in the slums of the Parisian area, as well as an information center and guest house in the refugee slums of Grande-Synthe.

Cyrille Hanappe is also an associate architect for the architecture agency AIR – Architectures Ingénieries Recherches, which he founded in 2000. This agency specializes in the construction of public and private buildings, such as schools, extracurricular buildings, research and academic buildings, healthcare buildings, housing, hotels, and more. In 2013, the agency was selected as a finalist for the European Union’s Mies Van Der Rohe Prize for Contemporary Architecture. AIR also contributed to the design of the Emergency Housing Center for migrants and homeless people that opened in 2016 in the Bois de Boulogne, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

Liquid Traces: Investigating the Deaths of Migrants at the EU’s Maritime Frontier, by Charles Heller, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London.


While the sea has long been perceived as a space lying outside of the reach of state power where freedom reigns absolute and where events leave no traces, by presenting our investigation into the Left-to-die boat case in which 72 people were left to drift for 14 days, we are able to probe the flexible and mobile form of power exercised at sea. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the violence exercised at and through the sea does leave traces that can be read by using the surveillance apparatus used to govern migration against the grain in the aim of seeking accountability.


Charles Heller is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. In addition, Heller is currently conducting a postdoctoral research supported by the Swiss National Fund (SNF) at the Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, American University, Cairo and the Centre d’Etudes et de Documentation Economiques, Juridiques et Sociales, Cairo. With Lorenzo Pezzani, he co-founded the Forensic Oceanography project that critically investigates the militarized border regime and the politics of migration in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the WatchTheMed platform. Their collaborative work has been published and exhibited internationally.