The Deborah J. Norden Fund 2007

Yutaka Sho: “Tillers of the horizon: Projecting public spaces by women in post-conflict Rwanda”
Fiyel Levent: “Re-reading ornament: Textures in Islamic Spain”

The Deborah J. Norden Fund, a program of The Architectural League of New York, was established in 1995 in memory of architect and arts administrator Deborah Norden. The competition awards up to $5,000 annually in travel grants to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies.

In 2007, the Architectural League awarded two grants: one to Yutaka Sho for “Tillers of the horizon: Projecting public spaces by women in post-conflict Rwanda,” and another to Fiyel Levent for “Re-reading ornament: Textures in Islamic Spain.”

“Tillers of the horizon: Projecting public spaces by women in post-conflict Rwanda”

Yutaka Sho travelled to Kigali and Butare in Rwanda to study the imidugudu, an ambitious federal housing policy aiming to rehouse the entire population of the country—twelve million Rwandans—in planned, modernized settlements. Because this policy has taken advantage of open rural lands, most inhabitants have been relocated. By means of interviews and surveys, Sho analyzed the role of urban amenities and social and economic networks in these projects. She focused on the workings of public space for Rwandan women, finding it to be located in the domestic sphere: “[it] occurs in backyards, between the house and the fence, or in a cooperative operated near women’s homes and villages.”

Yutaka Sho is an assistant professor of architecture at Syracuse University and a founder and partner at GA Collaborative. She has also taught architectural design studio and theory at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in Rwanda. Her research focuses on the role of architecture in development and post-conflict reconciliation, and she has researched and practiced in various countries including Lebanon, Bangladesh, Turkey, Uganda, and Japan. She is the recipient of 2012 Arnold Brunner Grant. Yutaka holds bachelor’s degrees in landscape architecture and fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design and a master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

“Re-reading ornament: Textures in Islamic Spain”

Fiyel Levent travelled to Andalusia, Spain, to study the ways in which the cultural tolerance of the Islamic Andalusian empire (711 to 1492 AD) could be understood through its architecture. Expecting to focus on ornament and ornamentation, Levent quickly found the role of toleration to go beyond this, being present in the variety of built forms and histories throughout the region, for “prosperity begets art and, for the ancient cities of Andalusia, that art is imbued with the tolerant ideology of its leaders and people.”

Fiyel Levent was born and grew up in New York City. She holds a bachelor’s in architecture from The Cooper Union and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing and literature from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Upon returning to New York from Scotland she began working at Anik Pearson Architect and has since managed various architectural projects ranging from ground-up buildings to apartment renovations. In 2009 Levent launched her own studio, completing projects and ongoing experiments in architecture, art, product design, and interior design. Using everything from the simplest of materials, such as paper and wood, to more complex materials such as Corian and recycled polyethylene, many of her designs involve combining and reinterpreting traditional forms with contemporary fabrication techniques. She aims to design and build custom architectural installations that achieve something close to the sublime in their relationship to light.

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About the Deborah J. Norden Fund

The Deborah J. Norden Fund

An annual competition that awards travel grants to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies

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