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Strongholds of Memory

Project | La Biennale di Venezia 2016 | Greek Pavilion


One of the greatest problems Europe will face in the years to come is thought to be the refugee crisis.

Despite the fact that a lot could be said for both the causes and solutions of the problem, refugee housing is one of the basic issues that must be addressed immidiately.

The main characteristic of refugee housing in the entrance countries is the “briefness”. Thousands of refugees are trapped between borderlines as well as in the main land of the entrance countries, like Greece  and Italy, waiting for permission to continue their path to the countries of the European North. The characteristic of this “briefness” is resolved through 'catalogue solutions', like containers and tents, overlooking that 
the issue remains that of housing.

Housing is by principle architecture. Aim of our proposal, therefore, is to present an architectural solution that will both address the characteristic of “briefness” and will provide an expanded social context.The first diagrams analyse the current situation. To be specific, the tents, the fences and the overall isolation of the hotspots are being examined. The following diagrams criticise and deconstruct the existing means. Last but not least, the final diagrams are based on and present our new principles of architectural design for the refugee areas.
Two are the ideas funding our design approach. On one hand, we suggest to “chanel people's own building capacity” in their temporary houses. That way, we not only provide them with proper housing conditions, but we also enable them to take personal initiative in the urban tissue so as to be expressed and connected with the surrounding area. On the other hand, these areas will not vanish once the problem is 'solved'.

On the contrary, these areas will turn into strongholds of memory through memorials and landmarks.
Memory, in that sense, is esential, as it can be understood in three distinctive ways: 
1) the memory of what was left behind, 2) the memory of those who came and 3) the memory of those who left.
These pronciples are illustrated in the grafic design. By using simple architectural moulds, we create unfinished 
but functionable spaces in strategic locations inside the urban tissue so as to achieve a level of interaction between the 
permanent and the temporary inhabitants. 

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