2012 Norden Fund Winners


Cristo Obrero Church, Eladio Dieste (left) and Mapping Kibera, Nairobi (Right). Images courtesy of the winners

The League is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of Deborah J. Norden Fund travel grants: Benedict Clouette and Marlisa Wise for their project “Forms of Aid: The Architecture of Humanitarian Space in Nairobi, Kenya” and Julian Palacio for his project “Material Tour de Force: The Work of Eladio Dieste.”

The Deborah J. Norden Fund, established in 1995 in memory of architect and arts administrator Deborah Norden, awards travel grants of $5,000 annually to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies.

Clouette and Wise will explore the architectural manifestations of “humanitarian space,” which they define as the urban forms created from contemporary humanitarianism: the convergence of non-governmental actors with economic globalization and security interests.  With a focus on the Kibera “slum” and the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, Clouette and Wise will investigate the built consequences of aid as a force for urban development.  They frame their project “as constituting a much-needed counterpoint to the recent exuberance for humanitarian architecture and design for social change, one that recognizes the complexity of the interests—economic, military, and political—that shape cities through contemporary humanitarian interventions.” Both Clouette and Wise recently graduated from the graduate program in architecture at Columbia, and are co-founders of Interval Projects, a non-profit design and research collaborative, with projects in Kenya, Ghana, Haiti, the West Bank, Massachusetts, and New York City.  Clouette currently works in the New York office of OMA and Wise works at Arcaseum.

Palacio will travel to Uruguay to explore the work of Eladio Dieste.  He plans to study the architect’s use of brick in load-bearing structures, such as reinforced shells, free-standing barrel vaults, and Gaussian vaults.  He states his interest as: “Dieste’s particular approach to the design of buildings is worth revisiting as it redefines traditional ideas of materiality in architecture.  Through the malleability of the surface, Dieste calibrated a precise relationship between the whole and the individual unit of construction, ultimately turning the design into a problem of material synthesis vis-à-vis the articulation of structural performance, geometry, and form.” Palacio is also a recent graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and currently leads his own office, Studio of Contemporary Architecture, in Washington, DC.