From UNIC to Ghana to the Venice Biennale
My career has been largely influenced by the Architecture Research Centre (ARC) at UNIC, where I studied for 5 years.
It was here that my outlook on architecture and the world changed under experienced and talented faculty members, each one uniquely different, with diverse backgrounds and perspectives on architecture. It was at ARC that I also developed the skills and tools needed to become an architect with character and passion, thanks to the influence of the architects I met there.
After graduating, I had the opportunity to work at an architectural office in Athens through the Erasmus+ Programme. This experience was a huge wake-up call for me, as I got to witness the harsh reality of our society. The number of homeless, starving people in Greece, as well as the war in Syria, made me recall what my ARC professors had taught me – to identify issues and solve them through our designs. As an architecture graduate, I felt it was my duty to try and change things.
This is when I began working on a project that set out to find a way to build small, temporary shelters for homeless people, at no cost and with easily accessible materials. The construction had to be easy to teach and learn so that the homeless could eventually build the structures themselves. The shelters were built by stacking plastic bottles, which were then weaved together with strips of plastic bags. This project has raised environmental awareness on the plastic waste crisis that is destroying our earth.
I also participated in the “A handmade school for Ghana” workshop, organised by two architects from Thessaloniki and the NKA Foundation. I was one of 40 volunteers that spent a month in Ghana building a classroom for the local children, an unforgettable experience!
Upon my return to Athens, I was invited to Johannesburg, South Africa, for three months, to work on the prototype of my plastic bottle shelter. The project became “House for Hope” and will soon be registered as an NGO. Its vision is to send groups of volunteers around the world to build shelters for homeless people.
I now work at the architectural office of one of my professors in Cyprus. I also represented Cyprus, and assisted the team that curated this year’s Architectural Biennale in Venice, with a project called “I am where you are”. Reminiscing about my time at ARC, the pressure and hard work was all worth it – an amazing experience I wouldn’t change for anything!
Junior Architect, Yiorgos Hadjichristou Architects
Architecture, Class of 2016