The work of Hollmén Reuter Sandman, be it for the type of programs they are committed to or the places where they work, is one of those that most literally embodies the notion of “architecture in the frontlines.” We can easily identify all the difficulties confronting their work: social conflicts, humanitarian crises, scarcity of resources, underdevelopment, poverty, discrimination, and marginality. All these complex issues occur in adverse contexts.
The first attribute that is apparent in their work is that in order to deal with complex issues they start by identifying local labor and crafts. The aim is not only to take advantage of traditional building techniques that may make the physical process of delivering aid more efficient,but to include locals as a way
to develop a more sustained and sustainable improvement of the living conditions. What is more interesting, though, is the syncretism that emerges when Scandinavian design (Western quality standards) meets local cultural codes and knowledge. The syncretism resulting from the cultural intermingling of different populations has conventionally been the result of violent, forced relationships: a religious imposition, a military conquest, racial domination.
Be it because the nature of the exchange is based on a proposal (architectural project) or because of the sensibility of HRS, the outcome in this case is naturally more inclusive.