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116 | This is Architecture as Well

Rania Qawasma is a Palestinian-American Architect and the founder of Architecture for Refugees, US, as well as Daarna. She works to advocate for social equity, affordable housing, and community-based design projects.

116 | This is Architecture as Well

Rania holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture engineering and a master’s degree in sustainable design from the Boston Architectural College. She is an active member of the Arab-American community, working with local organizations across a variety of media to assist Syrian and Iraqi refugees resettling in the Seattle area. She rejects the notion that displaced people are merely on the receiving end of aid. Instead, she joins them with designers such as architects and urban planners to create a better built environment for, with, and by refugees. 

Along with Iranian architect Yasaman Esmaili, Rania co-founded “Color my Home:” a project that empowers displaced children by transforming memories of home into tangible artwork, helping them share experiences that are otherwise difficult to express between languages. Her book project This is Home is an ever-evolving infographic guide designed to help refugees assimilate into their new homes. The project has met with resounding success. The This is Home guide book has been translated to Farsi, Dari, and Pashto. Physical and digital copies were distributed to all NGOs supporting the Afghan refugees who are settling in The US. 

Recently, Rania founded Daarna, a community-based organization that believes in social equity and community-based designs as solutions to end displacement. By partnering with refugees, local communities, activists, and organizations, such as the DC based Fresh Start Refugees organization, Daarna aims to provide resources that can empower those forcibly displaced to heal, adjust, and build their new communities. The organization’s latest project, “Ahlan”, is a mobile app based on This is Home to help refugees familiarize themselves with their new neighborhoods and cities.

Currently, Rania and the Daarna team are working on version 2.0 of Ahlan. As they are partnering with US nonprofit organizations to hire refugees to design and develop the app, this new iteration will not only be designed for refugees, but by refugees themselves. 

We were fortunate enough to be joined by Rania on our podcast Social Design Insights, where she shared with us her vision of a world where refugees are welcome.


Our opening theme music for 2019 is "Bang Bang" and our closing theme is "Salvame" both by Eljuri from her album "La Lucha." The break music for this episode is "Arabanta" by Chaz Kkoshi from the compilation album "Rock the Tabla."