General Assembly meeting 2009
Saturday, 25 April 2009 - 11:00am to Tuesday, 28 April 2009 - 6:00pm
INTRODUCTION by Dick Urban Vestbro
Architecture Sans Frontières International is now put on the global mapAt the end of April this year Architecture Sans Frontières International (ASF-Int) held its General Assembly meeting in Grenoble, France. This wonderful old city met the participants with warm sunshine and cherry blossoms, while being surrounded by Alps covered with snow. The meeting was combined with a symposium that attracted almost 100 people, and with a guided tour to villages with beautiful adobe architecture and to the famous Centre for Research on Earth Architecture, CRAterre. The GA meeting itself signified an important step forward in consolidating the positions of ASF-Int. Well organised symposium The symposium was held at the Grenoble City Hall and was generously supported by the City of Grenoble. This support allowed the organisers to hire professional interpreters for simultaneous translation between English and French, a procedure that worked excellently. The theme of the symposium was “30 years of humanitarian action, changes and prospects”, a theme selected to mark the celebration of the 30th anniversary of ASFFrance. The theme of humanitarian action was introduced by Pierre Micheletti, president of Médecins du Monde, with a substantial experience of work in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He is also the author of the book “Humanitarianism: Adapt or renounce”. Among other things Dr Micheletti explained the importance of the Biafra war in Nigeria in the 1960s for the development of humanitarian aid in France and other countries. Architects Eric Laubé and Louis Lhopital of ASF-France presented a review of ASF-France’s achievements since its foundation in 1979 and presented two projects: a redevelopment project from Doual, Cameroon and a hospital for Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan. It turned out to be difficult to evaluate the importance of these projects, although they had been completed a long time ago. A most prominent speaker of the symposium was Ana Surgranyes, a Chilean architect and the General Secretary of Habitat International Coalition (HIC), a worldwide network of organizations, and individuals fighting for fair habitats. She gave a very well prepared lecture, including critical analyses of current housing policies. She also presented a number of points for future cooperation between ASF-Int and HIC (to be discussed further among ASF members). The fact that the symposium attracted so many architects, students and persons from the general public means that ASF starts to be more widely known as a serious and progressive organisation. This success was possible mainly because of the great efforts of the main organisers of the symposium, Stéphane Plisson and Benoît Claviéras. ASF-France promised to produce a document from the symposium for distribution within ASF-Int.
New membersThe General Assembly meeting of ASF-International was held at the Grenoble School of Architecture. Almost 50 people attended the meeting, at least half of which had not participated at any ASF-Int meeting earlier. Sometimes it was hard for the newcomers to understand complicated formal issues of the agenda, especially since acoustics were bad and simultaneous interpretation was missing. It helped considerably, however, to have the minutes (made by the undersigned) displayed on the wall successively as the proceedings progressed. The GA meeting had the pleasure to approve applications for membership from two new organisations: ASF-Suisse and the Habitat Technology Group of India. The meeting also confirmed the previous decision to grant membership to ASF-Denmark. This means that ASF-Int now has 18 members. Lively discussion on Activity Plan The proposal for activities of the coming year sparked off a lively and constructive discussion. Among other things it was decided that ASF-Int should participate in the World Urban Forum to take place in Brazil in 2010. This participation should comprise not only a presentation to the forum itself, but also a workshop with a local community, NGOs in Rio and international organisations related to ASF-Int. It was furthermore decided that a PowerPoint presentation of ASF-Int be made for members to use when presenting the organisation. There was only one motion to the GA meeting. ASF-Sweden had proposed that ASF-Int should act against the design of illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories of Palestine on the basis that such activities violated both international law and professional ethics as formulated in the principles of the International Union of Architects. The motion was not approved, since delegates felt that such an action would jeopardise the neutrality and non-political character of ASF-Int. It was decided, however, to contact Israeli and Palestinian associations and individual Israeli and Palestinian architects to “explore the grounds for common action”. It was also decided to express support for the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee.
New BoardThe GA meeting elected new Board of nine persons. It includes new members as Richard Anthony Losalajome of ASF-RDCongo and Per Kraft of ASF-Sweden. The following were re-elected from the outgoing Board: Jordi Balari of ASF-España; Ludovic Jonard of Architecture & Développement, France; Stéphane Plisson of ASFFrance; and Dick Urban Vestbro of ARC●PEACE. Continuing Board members with two-year mandates from 2008 were Beatrice de Carli of ASF Italia (Milano); Melissa Kinnear of ASF UK and Pawan Shestra of ASF Nepal. Three resigning Board members – Sara Peny, Ligia Nunes and Eric Selis – were thanked for their contributions to ASF-Int during the past years. At the Board meeting held 26 April Jordi Balari was reelected Chairman, while Stéphane Plisson was re-elected Vice-Chair and Dick Urban Vestbro Secretary. Melissa Kinnear became a new Vice-Chair and Beatrice de Carli the new Treasurer. The program in Grenoble included an exhibition of 30 different projects of ASF-Int. There was also an exhibition of drawings, paintings, photomontages and sculptures, made by members of ASFFrance. At the inauguration of the exhibition music was presented by Karim Sanou from Burkina Faso. Besides singing he played instruments such as balafon, n’goni and guitar. The day after the GA meeting a bus tour was organised. The tour included visits to CRAterre (Center for Research on Earth Architecture) and to experimental villages with earth constructions. Reporting: Dick Urban Vestbro Secretary of ASF-Int
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