About CAHR

Mission Statement

CAHR Heading Lines Graphic

CAHR is working in several areas to establish a rights-based approach (RBA) to development.  Architecture, planning and engineering have a profound effect on our built environment and we believe that the application of a rights-based approach will have an equally positive effect on the practice of architecture, on the rights of citizens and on the built environment itself.  To that end, the mission of CAHR is to spread that understanding of the RBA to the profession through education, research and demonstration building.

Why is the RBA important?

These diverse projects have something in common

  • Urban regeneration projects
  • Three Gorges Dam
  • Recovery from natural disasters

They all involve engineers, architects and planners and they all result in the displacement of people.  A 2007 report estimated that there were 163 million people who had been forcibly displaced.  ‘Development-induced displacement’ accounted for 65% of forced evictions – more than all other causes combined – disasters, persecution, and conflict.  Many communities pay a heavy price for urban development.  To that extent, they are not seeking a ‘Right to Development’ but rather protection from it.  As architects, planners and engineers, we are largely responsible for implementing this development.  This suggests a different approach from these professions – a rights-based approach.

The design of the built environment can and should support rights through improved education and more effective and responsive work in communities.

How are rights and architecture connected?

There are 5 areas of focus where we see rights and architecture intersect:

  • Cultural Rights – working with vulnerable communities in the protection of their cultural history
  • Rights of access – working with communities to overcome exclusion in the access to buildings, to resources and to the city
  • Housing rights – working with vulnerable communities to provide design alternatives to forced eviction especially through development-induced displacement
  • Environmental rights – working with vulnerable communities in the protection of traditional and legal land rights in the face of disaster and development as well as the protection of their rights to clean water and air.
  • Workers’ rights – providing a safe haven away from construction sites for the children of migrant construction workers and improving their access to education and health care.

How does CAHR work to protect and promote these rights?

CAHR works in four different areas to demonstrate these connections:

  • Formal education – a rights-based approach to the professional degree in architecture as well as a research Masters.
  • Informal education – field training and built environment education for children in vulnerable communities
  • Research/monitoring – both university-centred and independent research on the implications of human rights on the built environment such as codes and regulations, migrant construction workers and their families,
  • Building – the design and construction of demonstration projects which illustrate the relationship between rights and design.
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