New article by Tom Scott-Smith explores politics of humanitarian architecture

A new article by Tom Scott-Smith explores how refugee shelter can reveal the political function of humanitarian architecture. 

There has been considerable growth in architecture with an explicitly humanitarian purpose in the last decade. This article examines the politics and functions of this movement by looking in detail at the humanitarian centre at Porte de la Chapelle in Paris (the “Yellow Bubble”).

Based on in-depth interviews and participant observation during 2017, the article shows how the centre provided migrants with a bed for the night while at the same time serving the political imperative to clear informal settlements from the streets of Paris. The design, like many others, therefore replicated both the compassionate discourse of humanitarianism and its deeply political functions.

Tom Scott-Smith (2020) ‘Building a bed for the night: the Parisian “Yellow Bubble” and the politics of humanitarian architecture’, Humanity, DOI: