Royal College of Arts (U.K.) / Instructors: Platon Issaias, Godofredo Pereira & David Burns (2016)
The crisis in Syria entered its Sixth year on March 15, 2016 with 12.2 million people in need of life saving aid, over four million refugees fleeing across the borders, 7.6 million internally displaced and more than 212,000 people trapped in besieged areas without access to humanitarian assistance.
The conflict in Syria has a direct impact in the island of Lesvos (Greece) — a key point on the migrant route to Europe. In only 6 months in 2015 over half a million individuals crossed into Greece by entering this island — a movement through which people become commodities, abstracted by smugglers, finance, law or human rights. Recognizing the conditions and processes by which the displaced reach the island forces us to look beyond questions of shelter and its provision and into the reorganization of political and legal processes.
The proposed design of a United Nations embassy located on the Island of Lesvos, explores the processes by which people and bodies are abstracted, converting these into design tools for the reorganization of power relations within institutional settings. In doing so the project explores new forms of institutional architecture.
The embassy consists of three objects: An archive of case law situated in Korakas; an appeals court in Moria; and a social council in Mytilene.
The archive offers consultation on case law regarding asylum and appeals for asylum, while also recommending laws to the international court of appeals. Adjacent to the lighthouse in Korakas, it aims to provide support to new arrivals. Legal documents (available in multiple languages) are available to study. The tower of law and appeals is designed to expand with the addition of new cases.
The Appeals Court ///
Located between the two refugee camps of Moria and close to the registration center, its form is an inversion of a dome on a square plan. Its purpose is to resolve disputes between individuals and the registration office decisions. Judges sit where the oculus would be, surrounded by claimants. This legal space assesses cases of those who have been denied passage into Europe. Below, in the consultation area, the judges sit on the outside, as the representatives of the displaced sit on the inside.
The Social Council ///
The Social Council occupies an abandoned swimming pool located within the port of Mytilene. It has the sole purpose of allowing a moment of collective encounter before refugees depart to different locations in Europe. The seating arrangement reconstitutes a collective, as individual seating is not defined. The staff of the council and the departees only meet at the centre of the building, where the swimming pool sits, for further consultations before departure. No border control exists in the social council as travellers arrive at the port when all documentation for transit is approved.
The research and subsequent propositions intend to uphold the international declaration of human rights, and the spatial rights of mankind. The entire body of work is presented physically through objects and etchings to reinforce the physicality of the body and the violence of its abstraction.