What is the architect’s role in the refugee crisis?

Mickael Minghetti won second place in Drawing of the Year 2016

A technical drawing with the ironic title Housing of the Year earned Mickael Minghetti the second prize in the international student competition Drawing of the Year 2016. The drawing shows a refugee tent and is a highly relevant and political drawing commenting on the current refugee crisis.

The jury described Minghetti’s drawing as a brutal, humorous, and extremely honest reminder that one of the most difficult challenges architecture face is the ability to address the urgencies the world produces.


Mickael Minghetti.

The idea behind the drawing

As Mickael Minghetti sees it, one of the most publicised housing projects of this year didn’t even involve architects:

“Refugee camps, like the one in Calais, France, has received prolific news coverage. Images of decrepit tents, muddy ground, and bright plastic sheeting were used to report the poor conditions of these settlements. This drawing aims to question the role of architects in this crisis,” Minghetti says and elaborates:

“Our tools, technical drawings, models, and renderings, seem unfit to address these conditions. Producing a technical drawing of a refugee tent is absurd, but I hope it helps us to find better ways to address these challenges.”

Production methods

The drawing was made with a common CAD Drafting software. Minghetti’s inspiration for both design and concept came from a classic work of art:

“To create the drapery of the tent, I traced over the dress of Marianne in the painting Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix. This painting commemorates the revolution of 1830, and it became a symbol of Liberty in the French culture, ” he says.

“Those seeking asylum today in Europe strive for the same ideal of liberty. For me, the final drawing still resonates with Delacroix’s artwork, even if the reference becomes invisible.”


“Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix


Design process.

Second prize: Mickael Minghetti

The final drawing.


Mickael Minghetti (born 1994) completed his bachelor degree in architecture from the Swiss Federal Institut of Technology in Lausanne in July 2016. As part of his bachelor studies, he has been an exchange student at TU Delft in the Netherlands.

Before entering his master studies, Minghetti is currently doing a 12-month internship in Vietnam.

Mickael Minghetti will donate half of his prize money to refugee relief organizations.