The opening of Work Towards Fairness by architect Eric Moed signifies the first step towards the restoration of Casa do Passal in central Portugal. The Casa do Passal was formerly inhabited by Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat who helped around 30,000 people escape into neutral Portugal against governmental orders during WWII during the fascist dictatorship of Antonio Salazar. Moed's great-grandfather and grandfather, who are both architects, were among those saved. Aristides' job and home were confiscated by Salazar, and Aristides died impoverished. His heroic actions went unnoticed and his home remained in ruins at Cabana de Viriano.
Moed dedicated his thesis at Pratt Institute to restoring the Casa do Passal when he discovered his family's story. He wanted to honor Aristides through architecture, the skill that the diplomat enabled 3 generations of his family to practice personally and professionally.
After winning 5,000 Euros in a competition from the UNHATE Foundation, Moed was able to turn his thesis into a reality. Moed built most of the project as a kit of parts at Serett Metalworks in Brooklyn, NY for 5 weeks. Afterward, the parts were shipped to Portugal where Moed constructed the project on-site at the Casa do Passal.
Moed's grandfather, Leon Moed and Aristides' descendents performed the ribbon-cutting at the opening of the project on June 20, 2013. Over 500 people attended including the Israeli Ambassador of Portugal, the Director of Culture, and over 40 individuals whose families were saved by Aristides. Moed curated the exhibit with the help of the Sousa Mendes Foundation in the U.S. and Portugal, and the Felix Archives in Antwerp, Belgium.
The Work Towards Fairness project is comprised of 3 pavilions, collectively serving as an engaging museum to memorialize Aristides and commemorate his humanitarian acts. The estimated 30,000 people he saved are represented by Aristides' signature embossed 30,000 times on the construct's exterior. With the project's use of pure white steel and frosted acrylic contrasted against the home's decaying condition, it also serves as a plea to restore the Casa do Passal.
The Work Towards Fairness project continues to tell the story of Aristides into the present day. The project will travel around the world to various notable institutions like the Museums of Tolerance and Jewish Museums, among others.