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Saturday’s “Hip Hop + Architecture as Design Justice” will kick off an open call for submissions to envision a “Just City”

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Michael Ford, founder of the Hip Hop Architecture Camp

Madison architectural designer Michael Ford and the Hip Hop Architecture Camp are calling out to all hip-hop fans, designers, artists and more to come and participate in the virtual “Hip Hop + Architecture as Design Justice,” an open call for submissions on Saturday, June 6, 11 a.m. that will also include live interviews with some very special guests.

The challenge requires participants to use hip hop lyrics as prompts to imagine spaces, places, and products to create a “Just City: A city which has dismantled and defeated racism.”

“This event is a call to action for designers, artists, thinkers, rappers, etc. We want to get as many people as possible together to have a discussion about some of our favorite music that is related to uprisings and protest music,” Ford tells Madison365. “We’re going to have this discussion with a number of celebrities. We’re going to challenge people to take some of the ideas that are expressed in the music and make visuals to mention the ideas.

“We are using lyrics that give people an idea of a better tomorrow and we are going to make graphics that allow you to not only hear those ideas but see it,” he adds. “Once you can start to see something, it becomes that much more real to you.”

Ford, founder of the Hip Hop Architecture Camp, is dedicated to using hip hop culture as a provocation for cross disciplinary discourse between architectural practitioners and end-users on the sociological and cultural implications of architecture and urban planning.

At Saturday’s “Hip Hop Architecture as Design Justice Competition Kick-Off and Q&A Webinar” Ford will interview the special guests that include Lupe Fiasco, a Grammy award-winning rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and community advocate and former Milwaukee Bucks basketball player Mo Williams, who recently became the head coach of Alabama State University.

Lupe Fiasco

Ford is marrying hip-hop and architects at a time when the United States is seeing continued unprovoked and senseless murders of Black people in public spaces.

“I recently put out an op-ed [in Azure Magazine] where I talked about how as architects we can’t be complacent with designing the backdrops of injustice,” he says. “If the profession remains silent, it’s rendering itself as irrelevant to Black and Brown communities. We already don’t have a lot of diversity in the profession.

Mo Williams, new head coach of Alabama State University and former Milwaukee Bucks player, will be a special guest at Saturday’s Hip Hop Architecture as Design Justice Competition Kick-Off and Q&A Webinar 

“And music is one way that we disseminate information quickly,” he continues. “An idea can travel from Chicago to Tokyo quickly. I’m trying to bring that voice that has already been talking about uprising and protest since Hip-Hop first began almost 50 years ago.”

“Hip Hop + Architecture as Design Justice” is a free event held on Zoom. You have to RSVP in order to receive the link. You can do that here.

“At the end of the event, we will issue the challenge,” Ford says.

Ford says that he will be challenging people of all ages and backgrounds including architects students, designers, artists, singers, rappers, and hip hop fans to use hip hop’s protest music as prompts for imagining a “Just City – a city that has dismantled and defeated racism.” The submissions will be due Friday, June 19, at 7 p.m. (central time).

 “The call for submissions is not a competition. Everybody is a winner here for amassing to speak here to dismantle and defeat racism,” Ford says. “The call for submissions is not only drawing or making an architectural image or sketching, we’re also going to challenge people to make their own verse or their own poem … to imagine spaces once we’ve dismantled racism. It’s a call to all artists.”