Henriquez Partners Architects presents GHETTO: Sanctuary for Sale

Henriquez Partners Architects’ theoretical project GHETTO: Sanctuary for Sale—originally displayed at the European Cultural Centre (ECC) 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale—is currently on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), in Toronto.The installation is open to the public in the AGO Annex until November 20, 2022. In conjunction with the AGO installation, Henriquez and the UNHCR are announcing the Henriquez Partners Architects UNHCR Canada Scholarship Fund, supporting UNHCR’s Aiming Higher refugee scholarship program. The scholarships will fund post-secondary education for young refugees as they begin the immensely challenging process of rebuilding their lives.

GHETTO: Sanctuary for Sale was originally created for the ECC 2021 Architecture Biennale invitational TIME SPACE EXISTENCE, responding to the event’s theme “How will we live together?”.
The genesis of the installation was inspired by multiple factors – the site of the event in Cannaregio, Venice and its historic origin as the world’s first ghetto, the global refugee crisis, and the Henriquez credo that architecture has the potential to be a poetic expression of social justice.

Developed in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and ECC, GHETTO illustrates the leadership role that architects can play in the creation of inclusive, engaged cities and the power of the development community to provide social benefits.

“Contemporary architecture is often revered purely as an aesthetic rather than a social force. In the creation of communities that encourage values of inclusivity, diversity and social benefit, the architect’s role has the potential to facilitate a transfer of equity to those most in need,” says Gregory Henriquez, Managing Principal, Henriquez Partners Architects.

GHETTO imagines a physical conduit for redistributing wealth, from tourists to refugees, by transferring equity garnered in the development process in a mutually beneficial manner.

The 2,000-unit theoretical development model provides 1,000 homes for refugees and 1,000 timeshare units for tourists, over four sites in Venice, sufficient to create a revenue-neutral financial model. While this project explores one iteration of this redistribution model, it can be applied across different geographies, scales and contexts. GHETTO has been honoured with awards from the European Cultural Centre, Architecture MasterPrize, Architizer A+ Awards and Azure Awards.