Farihd Maya
Interviewer: Marcela Torres
Language of interview: Spanish
Country of practice: Colombia
Profession: Architect at Taller Sintesis

Farihd Maya is a Colombian architect, professor, and cofounder of Taller Sintesis, a studio located in the city of Medellín. According to Maya, most architecture professionals in Colombia think of the conflict as something far from their reality, which is one of the reasons why it is important to encourage design professionals and students to get involved in spatial and social justice processes. For Maya, one of the biggest architectural challenges in the current Colombian reality is designing spaces for memory and transitional justice in the middle of an ongoing and long-lasting civil conflict. However, he emphasises  the importance of design since “architecture allows to give hope a shape”.  

During our interview, Maya  explains how Taller Sintesis has been involved in the design of several memory spaces, in which the studio’s main role has been to understand the responsibility of architecture in relation to the difficult social realities. Maya presents different case studies in several massacres sites in Antioquia, including a “house of memory” in Villa del Fuerte, a community space in Puerto Bello, and a space for cosmovisions preservation in Vigia. All these projects are located in contexts of hard social conditions, extreme poverty, and active conflict with hegemonic ideas of development. 

Lastly, Maya explains the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration for designing spaces in conflict zones. He then describes  some of the obstacles architects face when working with transitional justice; among others, a deeper need for cultural and geographical awareness, the urgency for flexible and multi-purposed spaces that help to cover basic needs of communities, and the  importance of understanding that offenders should be also part of the design process,  even if they were responsible for the murder of hundreds of people. For Maya, collective architecture processes require prioritising  the humanity of offenders, even if this is the most difficult task to accomplish.