Design: Olon Architects
Team: Jai Mexis, Maro Kouri, Sofia Badeka
Survey of seven refugee camps in Greece
Olon Architects were assigned by “This American Life” to survey seven refugee camps in Greece. The analysis and visual representation aiming at recording living conditions and collecting stats were followed by film documentation and a series of interviews by Ira Glass and his crew. Our process involved starting by surveying the site, then pinpointing the location of each tent on the site and in the end locating common spaces. We looked at how they designed, organized and made these spaces dedicated to activities such as cooking, bathing, resting and socializing. Also, we investigated how they hacked resources to make the most out of 20m2 tents.
Each time we were intrigued by the ingenuity of the residents; their inventive solutions and the efficient use of whatever material they would come across have been invaluable design lessons. We noticed great attention to details and an almost entropic tendency to form “neighbourhoods” by breaking the rigid, army-like plan layout of the tents and forming groups of shelters, private and common. In the end, these per “tribe” formations would make up villages. This fast track research led to the realization that even in limbo, human inventiveness creates beauty that goes beyond the need for survival. It brought us big insights into how people cope and create shelters in extreme situations.