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Hip-Hop Architecture

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Removing the financial barriers involved with participation in high quality programs for communities who are underrepresented in careers related to S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering,Arts/Architecture and Math).

In his article “Architects, Designers and Planners: #BlackLivesMatter and You Must Speak Up!” in Azure Magazine, Michael Ford calls on architects to respond to the continued, unprovoked and senseless murders of Black people in public spaces and discusses his work with Hip-Hop Architecture Camp.

The Hip Hop Architecture Camp uses hip hop culture as a catalyst to introduce underrepresented youth to architecture, urban planning and design. The basis of The Hip Hop Architecture Camp’s curriculum refers to hip hop as a post-occupancy evaluation of Modernism. Here, hip hop culture, in its totality, is the catalyst used to introduce Black and brown youth to architecture and urban planning. This international program is free for youth and has taken place throughout the United States, with international programs in Toronto, Vancouver and Kenya.

In 2019 Hip Hop Architecture came to Philadelphia for the first time hosted by NKCDC (New Kensington Community Development Corporation)!

“But maybe one of the most direct influences on what I do is Nas…. he created an anthem for kids in 2002 called “I Can.”….The song inspired young Black children to become architects by reminding them that they were the first architects – they built civilizations so beautiful and empowering that people wanted to destroy them or mask who had created the cities."

According to the website the camp is a one week intensive experience, designed to introduce under represented youth to architecture, urban planning, creative place making and economic development through the lens of hip hop culture. The Camp is based on the "4C's" which are Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking. During the camp, students are paired with architects, urban planners, designers, community activists and hip hop artists to create unique visions for their communities which include the creation of physical models, digital models and the creation of a Hip Hop Architecture track and music video summarizing their designs.”

"Rap has structure. The way you put together a song has a structure. And it's very easy to draw the parallel between the structure of a song and the structure of a building."

The Hip Hop Architecture Camp prides itself on removing the financial barriers involved with participation in high quality programs for communities who are underrepresented in careers related to S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Architecture and Math).

The workshops are free to students due to donations from sponsors (including Autodesk, Urban Land Institute, and public libraries across the world).

Find more information for how to donate, volunteer, and host a camp here!

“Volunteers are not required to be in the architecture profession, we are looking for designers, real estate developers, educators, hip hop artists representing all the elements, (Graffiti, Djing, MCing, Bboy/BGirl), urban planners and community leaders to join our sessions for youth.”

“What we do is we look at every single word and syllable, and we create a very abstract diagram that charts the rhyme scheme of Lupe Fiasco. Let's say it's ‘Hip-Hop Saved My Life.’ ... And that chart, that diagram, that piece of art eventually becomes the building. So if Lupe Fiasco has a rhyme with words that have multiple syllables, that building may be a lot taller than a rhyme scheme that uses words with a single syllable. … So we’re literally converting lyrics into architecture."

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