TEXT BY IRENA DRAGAŠ JANSEN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MANUELA THAMES
As I observe the global pandemic unfold from the comforts and safety of my Washington, D.C., metro area home, I am transported back to the basement shelters where my parents, sister, relatives, neighbors, and I hid from the daily deadly mortar attacks during the most recent war in Croatia.
With the photo essay this week from Nihab Rahman, you may begin to notice that we’re spending several weeks of our once-per-week publishing schedule on stories connected to the lives of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar (also called Burma) who have fled to Bangladesh, where they are living in refugee camps.
Whether or not you’re an adherent to the Christian faith, today’s big anniversary marks an event whose effects have been so far-reaching that they helped create the cultural milieu you were born into. Laura Fabrycky’s current abode in Germany—the country in which Martin Luther made his 95 theses public 500 years ago today, on October 31, 1517—has given her a front row view of Germany’s public commemorations of the anniversary of the Reformation. This 16th century religious movement was ultimately marked by the rejection or modification of some Roman Catholic doctrine and practice and by the establishment of the Protestant churches. Laura reflects on how Luther’s work might inspire our own.
Design processes, especially in the built environment, tend to progress on very similar trajectories: a client with an idea engages a designer to turn that abstract idea into a concrete product (sometimes literally concrete). Many problems with this approach come to mind, but the one I would like to focus on is the notion of genius and where good ideas come from.
In recent decades, as churches have fallen into disrepair, their previously significant impact on community development has waned. While they certainly still serve as both social and spiritual centers, they do not dominate the landscape as they once did. The grid of city streets has reduced their hierarchical impact, and often, the Central Business District supports many buildings of much greater scale. Even the megachurches, with their thousands of members and sprawling complexes and campuses, are often sited away from urban centers, isolated on large swaths of land in suburbia.