archi_diversity vs. neuro_tecture

archi_diversity vs. neuro_tecture
Melana Jäckels
What if neurodivergent folks design better spaces to meet the up and coming catastrophes?

Melana Jäckels
Berlin, Germany
Team members
Melana Jäckels
Field of work
Architecture, Urban planning, Ecology, Communication, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

I am Melana, and my journey may appear scattered and incoherent, filled with diverse interests and skills, often leading me down various paths, some of which felt like detours and dead ends.
Throughout my professional life, I felt confined by rigid traditional workplaces, stifling my creativity, and leaving me restless. Constantly shifting between endeavors, I questioned my ability to make a meaningful impact and find joy in my work.
A pivotal moment came when I found a job that provided a different structure and culture, allowing me to flourish in a seemingly chaotic environment. I exceed my own expectations, including the creation and implementation of a postgraduate program in sustainable architecture and the kickstarting of an online learning hub for sustainability practices.
Even though I didn’t have the vocabulary at that point yet, this experience taught me that my strengths lie in my curiosity and versatility, and that my passion lies in forging connections between people, experiences and opportunities related to sustainable architecture and urban development.
This led me to create my own projects where I can follow this curiosity and work on my own terms with like-minded people that won’t judge me. Alongside my partner, we co-founded build_shift, which started as a job platform showcasing opportunities from organizations committed to change and open to fresh perspectives. As we evolve, build_shift transforms into a vibrant hub and community, sparking innovation and connection.
I am thrilled to start a conversation about how supporting people on their missions to tackle pressing challenges in their own unique ways can lead to better strategies and approaches. When we break away from conventional work norms, we open the doors to innovation and fresh perspectives that can make a real difference!

Most would agree that today’s challenges need people who are creative problem solvers and who work well under pressure, who thrive in times of crisis, effortlessly recognizing patterns where others see chaos, courageously blazing trails and handling multiple problems at once, connecting seemingly unrelated dots while bringing the human perspective to the table.

And there is a bunch of people, who might carry these qualities with them, but we neurodivergent people often find ourselves shamed and discouraged. Our unique ways of thinking and working don't align with the dominant societal norms, leaving us doubting our own abilities. We end up cutting ourselves down to fit a mold, betraying our inherent characteristics.

You'd assume that the architecture world, famed for its creativity, would embrace us, right? Maybe it's because if we're taking up space, we're not easy to control. We love working on our terms, resisting undue authority - hierarchies and big architect’s egos are not our thing. Or maybe it's because our ideas scare you. Are you afraid we are questioning the status quo, daring to push boundaries, perhaps our audacity might lead to some uncomfortable evaluation, questioning your role and how you got there?

By keeping us in check, you're denying the chance to find pioneering strategies that could transform the spaces we inhabit into a more livable and prosperous future. But sure, push it to the fact that we are a mess or it’s because we are awkward.


WRITING: I aim to uncover the challenges neurodivergent individuals encounter in the architecture world and spotlight those who've triumphed over common stereotypes and cultures by applying their creative, maybe radical thinking to forge innovative and extraordinary practical solutions.

I would like to use a mix of scientific and artistic approaches as I believe this can provide unique insight and connect different experiences (could include interviews, interventions, experiments, etc.).