Architecture senior wins Wallenberg Fellowship to study refugee camps
The 2015 Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship will be awarded to Bjørnar Haveland, a senior in Architecture who is graduating from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
The $25,000 Fellowship will support Haveland during a year-long independent project that he designed, entitled “Permanently displaced: exploring the humanitarian potential of architecture in protracted refugee situations in Lebanon and Kenya.”
During his year-long project, Haveland will learn about refugee settlements in Resheideh, Lebanon and Dadaab, Kenya by exploring the spaces people live in, the dynamics of the street, and interactions with surrounding communities, with the goal of bringing these settlements into the discourse of architecture.
At seventeen Bjørnar attended Red Cross Nordic United World College (UWC) in Norway, a school of 200 students from more than 80 countries committed to education as a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
Of that experience, he says, “It radically expanded my view of the world. I gained a multicultural skill-set; a kind of fearless sensitivity with which to approach other cultures. I learned to be aware of what I don’t know and to let go of my presumptions, and I changed from being Norwegian to being a global citizen.”
Instead of going straight to university after graduation, he joined the Norwegian Peace Corps to live and volunteer in an Algerian refugee camp, an experience that he considers “the most difficult yet most rewarding commitment I have accomplished.”
Bjørnar came to Michigan to study Architecture as a transfer student from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was attracted to the diversity and size of U-M and because he wanted “a more holistic education, to engage a more international network, to meet people from other disciplines and have access to more resources.”
Architecture interested him because of the cross disciplinary fields involved – from engineering to aesthetics to social sciences – uniting many of his interests on how it affects our behavior and identity. Studying architecture and urbanism has led me to see the issue of refugee camps in a larger perspective.
He hopes that the Wallenberg Fellowship will give him “the opportunity to engage in a longer, well-directed and planned journey exploring refugee issues in depth and learn about how I can direct my future career towards them. I am determined to use my architectural education from University of Michigan to work for the world’s refugee population, but I need to work on how.”
Written by William Foreman. Originally published in The University Record.