Norden Fund 2019 info session

Learn about the 2019 Norden Fund competition and hear from past grantees.

February 20, 2019
7:00 p.m.

New housing under construction as part of an urban project, led by UN-Habitat and the government of Kenya, to demolish and rebuild an area of Kibera, the largest settlement in Nairobi. Credit: Benedict Clouette

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.

The Architectural League of New York invites you to an information session about the 2019 Deborah J. Norden Fund competition.

During the 2019 info session, past grantees Benedict Clouette and Marlisa Wise will discuss their project and League staff members will answer questions about the grant process.

Clouette and Wise are founding partners of Interval Projects, a design practice based in New York. Their research project, Forms of Aid: The Architecture of Humanitarian Space in Nairobi, Kenya examined the architectural manifestations of “humanitarian space,” a term coined by Rony Brauman, founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, to describe the operational environment of international aid organizations. Their research focused on a massive “slum upgrading project” in the settlement of Kibera, undertaken by the Government of Kenya in cooperation with UN-Habitat, and situated that project in relation to other sites across the city, including the UN’s African headquarters in the suburb of Gigiri and an industrial processing zone that houses the distribution centers of international aid organizations and relief supply manufacturers. The research suggested an alternative to the image of Nairobi as a city of isolated extremes, where wealthy estates abut slums, divided only by the walls of private compounds. The urbanism of Nairobi’s humanitarian bureaucracy suggests instead the interdependencies between “informal” settlements, globalized markets, international institutions, and urban politics.

Clouette and Wise recently published Forms of Aid (Birkhauser, 2017), a book that expands on their research in Kenya and examines the urban and architectural consequences of international humanitarian operations. Forms of Aid describes the spatial products of international aid at the scale of the building and the city, drawing attention to the responsibility that architects bear for the production of humanitarian space. The book provides a glimpse into the lesser-known spatial manifestations of aid: not just schools and clinics, but also free-trade zones, highways, checkpoints, nature preserves, cruise ships, factories, and surveillance technologies.

The application deadline for this year’s Norden Fund competition is Sunday, April 21, 2019, at 11:59 P.M. EDT.