American University of Beirut

Pushing inclusiveness and conversation in design - collaboration with House of Today

​​​​​​​​​​​​​House of T​oday (HoT) and the Department of Architecture and Design at AUB's MSFEA pushed inclusiveness and started a conversation with all design enthusiasts by co-curating the first Augmented Autarky symposium and Beyond Foraging workshop this January 2023, that took place at AUB. This event was a collaborative work between Rana Haddad and Anne France Berthelon and comes as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of House of Today!

HoT Founder Cherine Magrabi and the Department of Architecture and Design were thrilled to inspire, emulate, and support the next generation of creatives by welcoming, for the very first time in Lebanon, three acclaimed international designers and architects - Porky Hefer, Guan Lee, and Marco Campardo- for the symposium Augmented Autarky that was held on January 13, 2023, followed by a 4-day workshop titled Beyond Foraging. 

​Porky Hefer is an artist and designer famous for his limited-edition human nests and living pods in Kooboo cane, leather, or recycled waste. His work has been exhibited in leading fairs, biennales, and galleries worldwide. His obsession with vernacular architecture and the use of local building techniques, artisans, and materials to create is evident in his totally hand built, off the grid structure in Namibia (The Nest@ Sossus), which won the Wallpaper Design Award in 2019 for best new private residence. By embracing skills and processes that are readily available indigenously, rather than trying to emulate foreign processes, he ensures to preserve and keep them relevant in a modern age. 

Guan Lee is the co-founder of Material Architecture Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, where he is also associate professor of architecture. Grymsdyke Farm, his own research practice set in the Chilterns Buckinghamshire, explores the value of a collective living/ working practice that involves an intimate engagement with materials and processes of making - often combining craft and digital technology- in a specific place. His series of chairs and objects made from Polirock- a fired clay with unique characteristics somewhere between ceramic and rocks yet made by recycling manufacturing waste - has been recently exhibited in Paris and Milan. 

Marco Campardo is a London-based designer and maker pushing boundaries in material and manufacturing experimentation. By exploring alternatives to standardized mass production and smartly subverting/adapting tools and methods, his work for brands as well as for galleries or cultural institutions blurs the line between craftsmanship and industry, high-end and lo-fi, reproduction, and uniqueness. His project “Reversible" in expanded clay bound together with sugar installed in the windows of Selfridges during last LDF, has put circularity within the context of temporary installations in the spotlight. He was recently nominated for the Saltzman Prize at the Design Museum. 

Kicking off the collaboration of House of Today and the Department of Architecture and Design at AUB, was design critic and journalist Anne-France Berthelon, who is the creative strategic consultant for HoT, along with architect and designer Rana Haddad from the Department of Architecture and Design at AUB. Haddad is the founder of BePublic Lab at AUB, co-founder of 200Grs.-, and co-curator of the symposium Augmented Autarky.  

The symposium invited Porky Hefer, Guan Lee, and Marco Campardo to share their respective creative process and highlight how working with local available resources not only prevents vernacular techniques and cultural knowledge from vanishing, but also allows bold contemporary projects and conversations to bloom. 


Photos taken by Carl Hallal​​

Following the symposium, Guan Lee led Beyond Foraging, a 4-day workshop envisioned as a material and cultural exploration, setting the cross-pollination of disciplines (architecture, design, art, craft, engineering, computer science …) at the core of the design ecosystem. The free workshop was open to all design enthusiasts- designers, artists, architects, photographers, engineers, students, and fresh graduates. 

The workshop began without any fixed notions about its final form or design, so it was open to being shaped and enriched by the material and its construction methods. The goal was to improve upon what was already known through the application of experimental manufacturing techniques and a comprehensive examination of existing crafts and production methods. Participants spent four days exploring four different neighborhoods in Beirut: Hay al Seryan, Riad el Solh, Zuqaq el Blat, and Tariq el Sham. Following clues from the locals, the sounds of the streets, and tales from the past, they engaged in conversation with the objects and material.

They were able to derive four distinct results: one is about the native weed, mallow, and the other is about the accumulation of tree barks and roots in neglected sections of the streets. Two others transformed genuine city fragments into drawing and sculptural interventions. These resulting pieces offer a novel interpretation of the situation in which they were discovered or where they were found. 

Foraging walk
Led by
​Wael Lazkani
​Christian Sleiman
​Ieva Saudargaite
Nadine Touma
Mirna Nasrallah 

AUB student 

Myriam Soubra
AUB student 

Karen Fares
AUB student 

Roy Estephan
USEK graduate 

Hagop Sulahian
Architect AUB graduate of 1984

Alissa Hemaidan
AUB student  

Jad Kabbani
LAU student  

Yara Hamdan

Stephanie Korab
USEK graduate 

Lena Kelekian
Environmental design 

Michele Braidy
AUB graduate - IAAC 

Elie Dib
AUB undergraduate (4th year) 

Carol el Farraji
LAU undergraduate (5th year) 

Rebecca Fattouh
Alba graduate 

Yara Haydar
AUB graduate

​Omar Ayache
AUB graduate  

Sasha Mattar
Alba graduate 

Mireille Hayek
USJ and ESA graduate

Aya El Zein
AUB undergraduate (5th Year) 

All the designs and projects are now on display for at least three more weeks, so make sure to check them out yourself!

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