Maidan Tent - Architectural Aid for Europe's Refugee Crisis

Over the past two years alone, more than a million people have fled the Syrian conflict to take refuge in Europe, strenuously testing the continent’s ability to respond to a large-scale humanitarian crisis. With the Syrian Refugee Crisis still unresolved, and temporary refugee camps now firmly established on the frontiers of Europe, architects and designers are devoting energy to improving the living conditions of those in camps fleeing war and persecution.

One emerging example of humanitarian architecture is Maidan Tent, a proposed social hub to be erected at a refugee camp in Ritsona, Greece. Led by two young architects, Bonaventura Visconti di Modrone and Leo Bettini Oberkalmsteiner, and with the support of the UN International Organization for Migration, Maidan Tent will allow refugees to benefit from indoor public space – a communal area to counteract the psychological trauma induced by war, persecution, and forced migration.

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© Delfino Sisto Legnani

The process behind Maidan Tent began in 2016, with the design team making eight visits to the refugee camp, and reflecting on their conversations with refugees. They recognized a psychological ‘migration trauma’ within the community, the result of dangerous journeys in improvised or unsafe rafts across the Mediterranean Sea.

In refugee camps, a sprawling arrangement of tents and containers, and a lack of common areas can generate alienation and disorientation. The design team, therefore, believe that the public, organized common area offered by Maidan Tent can allow the community to play, interact, and empathize under a moveable, sheltered, expressive structure. The word 'Maidan' is itself derived from the Arabic for 'square', further reflecting the scheme’s dedication to social interaction. 

© Simon Kirchner

Maidan Tent covers an area of 200 square meters aluminum structure is covered by a water, wind, and fire resistant textile, offering a sheltered, safe environment for up to 100 people. The shelter is inherently flexible, with standardized components allowing for easy installation and maintenance, and eight modular spaces which can be adapted for a range of uses. The scheme’s circular shape is a conscious attempt to invite people to enter from any direction, where a series of semi-private spaces can enable refugees to establish personal relationships.

© Filippo Bolognese
© Bonaventura Visconti di Modrone, Leo Bettini Oberkalmsteiner

Pending additional funding, Maidan Tent aims to be operational by the summer of 2017. The cost of the Maidan Tent is projected to be €50,000, a small price to pay for a medical and psychological center, a playground for children, a gathering place to eat, buy and sell goods, learn and teach, pray, discuss and exchange ideas. Most importantly, replication of the center can offer temporary respite for millions of refugees as global leaders search for a solution to one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time.

© Filippo Bolognese

Donations to the ongoing fundraising initiative for Maidan Tent can be made here.

News via: Maidan Tent.

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Cite: Niall Patrick Walsh. "Maidan Tent - Architectural Aid for Europe's Refugee Crisis " 22 May 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© Filippo Bolognese


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