Violent conflict and persecution, compounded by rising food insecurity, environmental degradation, poor governance and countless other factors, drove more than three million people to leave their countries as refugees or to seek asylum in 2016, joining millions of others already in exile. By 2050, because of the consequences of climate change, the amount of climate migrants could reach the number of 200 millions refugees. Refugee camps are usually planned, built and designed with the aim of fulfilling the basic human needs for only a short time, but only 189.300 refugees were resettled in 2016 and approximately 40% of the refugees
Refugee Camps: The Latest Architecture and News
The theme for this year’s Venice Biennale is largely an invitation for architects and designers to expand and think beyond architecture’s traditional frontiers and to respond to a wider range of challenges relating to human settlement. With news of political crises continuing to fill the headlines of late, Aravena’s theme challenges architects to respond. One such response comes from Lucas Boyd and Chad Greenlee from the Yale School of Architecture. They believe that:
While [places of worship] do not provide a basic need for an individual’s biological survival, they do represent a fundamental aspect of not only an individual’s life beyond utility, but an identity within the collective, a familiar place of being—and this is something that we consider synonymous with being human—a requirement for the persistence of culture.
The two students came up with proposal designs on churches, synagogues and mosques that can be quickly built as “Pop-Up Places of Worship” in refugee camps. By presenting immediately-recognizable sacred spaces that are transportable and affordable, Boyd and Greenlee highlight spaces for worship as an absolute necessity in any type of human settlement. Through this process, the students also determine what, for them, is “necessary” in a religious structure.
June 20th. World Refugee Day.
When we think of emergency architecture, what usually comes to mind are villages razed by flooding, by a hurricane or tornado. Families who have lost everything. From catastrophe emerges a new home for a new life, a new future to rebuild from the debris. But there are many other emergencies of an equally - if not more - dramatic nature.
Political and armed conflicts displace tens of millions of people every year. In the 2012 census collected by ANCUR, it was estimated that “43.3 million people in the world were displaced by force due to conflict and persecution. Children constitute 46% of this population.” These are not people who are starting from 0 with a new home, but rather who have run to save their own lives, taking with them only what they can carry - the things that will furnish houses that aren’t houses, because their inhabitants aren’t citizens.
But a refugee camp is also a city.