Group of smiling children
Syrian children at Al Zaatari Camp in Jordan. (Photo credit: Alicia Kutkut Arroyo)

Alicia Kutkut Arroyo had the right idea when she finished her School of Architecture doctoral (DArch) dissertation at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa last year. After she turned it into her dissertation committee, chaired by Professor Pu Miao, she thought, why not turn it into a book?

Al Zaatari Refugee Camp as Permanent Housing, published in March 2019 by Amazon Digital Service for Kindle, has been nominated for two awards: one from the Hawaiʻi Architecture Foundation and the other for the Architectural Research Centers Consortium King Student Medal for Excellence. Kutkut Arroyo is also pursuing publication of the book as a paperback.

Kutkut Arroyo’s 190-page book envisions the transitional role of refugee camps from temporary structures to more permanent alternatives. “Alicia proposes five design solutions for the Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, and suggests that their implementation is a way to help refugees become an active part of society for a better and brighter future,” said Miao.

Book cover

Kutkut Arroyo said what amazed her most on visiting Al Zaatari was the people’s will to survive despite harsh conditions. “They were innovative and making the best of their situation,” she said. “I also learned that human compassion can be given with a smile, a word, an action. It can change the world.”

“Alicia’s published DArch dissertation shows that architectural research can fulfill one’s social responsibility while achieving good academic quality,” said Miao. “I am happy for her and the school.”

Added Interim Dean William Chapman, “This couldn’t be more timely, given the recent news on Israel’s claim to parts of the West Bank. We’re very proud of her.”

Since earning her DArch Aiea resident Kutkut Arroyo is working to establish a design-build firm with husband Keith Arroyo. In her book’s acknowledgements, she thanked Miao, Chapman, her brother Yousof Kutkut, and local architect Geoffrey Lewis, one of her Architecture instructors, for teaching her, “You have to think outside the box to be creative.”

For more on the DArch program, see the School of Architecture website.

Professor and book author
Architecture Professor Pu Miao and Alicia Kutkut Arroyo (Photo credit: Alicia Kutkut Arroyo)