Ingenuity, design and human spirit

The Azraq refugee camp in Jordan accommodates some 35,000 people displaced by the Syrian civil war, living in rows of white metal warehouses. Many years ago, Majid al-Kanan, a camp resident, undertook a project to fight the loss of life and sight.

Using clay and stones from the landscape of the camp, he erected ornamental arches in front of the curtain, citing the victorious arch in Palmyra, Syria – and added elements of the Syrian Aleppo Citadel and the Umayyad Desert Palace in Jordan.

In his new book on life in the Azraq camp, al-Qanan says, “I was exploring what could be done with sand and stone in this area.” The book has been edited by an MIT-based team that has worked with camp refugees on design projects for years.

According to the team, Azrac Camp is small but full of creative designers and builders. Camp dwellers used yogurt containers to plant gardens, made chess pieces from scrap handles, made children’s toys out of scraps, and cut tools from spare parts.

“These projects speak to the ingenuity of the human spirit,” said Button Akzamija, associate professor of architecture and planning at MIT and co-editor of the new book. “These innovations point to what is lacking. Because people have nothing to lose. ”

Similarly, the cultural and artistic aspects of these inventions are also important, “these are important human needs, not just food and not a roof over your head.”

The book, “Design for Living – Daily Creatures from Refugee Camp”, was published by MIT Press. The book’s co-editors are Axamija, an artist, architect, historian, director of MIT’s Future Heritage Laboratory, and director of the MIT program in the arts, culture and technology. Melina Phili ou, a professor at the University of Beirut and director of a Lebanese-based non-governmental organization, Araya Majzub, The Can-Arab Association for Prototype Cultural Practices Association, and the director of programming at MIT’s Future Heritage Lab.

“The book is about a refugee camp case study, but it goes beyond that”

Says Akzamija. It is also about the state of scarcity, and in the case of such a design and art agency in exile, which will inevitably face our international community in the future.

“We aim to contribute to this distribution by prioritizing and planning social and cultural activities beyond the” basic needs “set forth in the” crisis “zones,” Majozub added.

Syrian voices

An estimated 6.6 million Syrians have fled the country since the start of the 2011 war. Azrak Camp Opened in 2014, the Axis-based MIT Future Laboratory In 2017, he began working in refugee research and practice and design (facilitated by Humanitarian Care) and in collaboration with professors and students at the University of Germany-Jordan. Amen).

Before working with the MIT team, the residents of Azrak invented the “Design for Living” details. The book contains both English and Arabic text, an abundance of paintings, and sections for Syrian refugees to express their views. The size has a tête-bêche structure: the front pages are opposite to each other: they represent the views of people living inside and outside the camp.

“We are not talking to refugees, but we have raised their voices by including these views,” Akzamija said. We want to bring meaning to cultural and artistic processes in the healing of society.

She adds: “It was a sight to behold a toy truck and a chessboard. That’s really about cultural expression and making life worthwhile, solving issues like emotions, memories and frustrations and idleness.

Many refugees have improved their reservoirs; The book has a design made of buckets and pipes. Some Azrak residents, barred from growing in the soil, have created vertical gardens outside their warehouses – with plants made from yoghurt containers, where they grow traditional recipes.

“It is wonderful,” says Akshimija. “It is literally bringing spices to life. Plants are a beautiful metaphor for culture and food migration and perhaps even for humans. And [they’re] A way to continue your tradition of cooking. Good food is an important measure of Syrian culture. People have little capacity, but they cook. You will find this amazing dish in the middle of nowhere. Continuing your traditions is the way of life and salvation. ”

According to Phil ou, “The designs of our Syrian allies clear areas such as vertical gardens, fountains, and ornamental arches for personal and collective expression.” [often] It contradicts the camp camp control framework. ”

Part of the book, entitled “Proximity” Details, the camp residents built alternative, ornate entrance halls for their huts. These transit areas limit direct views from street to house to provide privacy to residents.

“Over time, we have seen the impact of these designs on other residents and non-governmental organizations,” said Phil. Their partners have built on the work of their neighbors, and NGOs have adjusted camp rules to accommodate and support these popular designs. Syrian designers in the camp offer options to return to systemic camp upgrades.

According to Majzoub, “These designs are not single or separate, but are part of a complex process of sharing, co-creation, and globalization where camp residents challenge their realities, challenge their position, and create frameworks for cultural sustainability. The standard refugee camp in the middle of the desert in a harsh and clean environment.

Resistance tasks

According to Akshimija, the creation of goods is the ability of refugees to cope. Many camp dwellers are depressed because they do not see a way out, but others find strength and inspiration in art and design. Azamija recalls an old man making toys out of garbage “full of spirit, but I don’t know how.” Although his son was a professional engineer, he was a camp dweller who could not find another job. Many feel that they have no work, no job, no future.

As Akšamija grew up, she experienced war and self-displacement. After the war broke out in the 1990’s, Bos’s family fled Bosnia and eventually settled in Austria.

“We had such a wonderful life in our own country, and we suddenly had to start from scratch,” says Akzamija. “I think this can happen to anyone, and it’s important to think that way.

Of course, Akšamija’s ideas in the book are not limited to refugee camps; In a world of extreme economic hardship, many people are suffering from a severe shortage of resources.

Moreover, most refugees remain in a state of despair. “It is important not to show these innovations,” Akshimija said. “This is a harsh reality. We tried to show. And we tried to show the power of art and design by creating a life that would allow us to live between war, extinction and displacement.

That way, look at the clay arches courtyard at Azrak. Properly covered, it will withstand a great deal of adverse conditions in just a few years. In his book, Azi Mija, Mazo Zub, and Philo ou, in a nutshell, have “transformed the desert from a symbol of isolation to a place of community and a medium for cultural expression.”

Like everything else, the structure was transcendent, prone to fall. In design, as in all walks of life, Azraic refugees are in need of rebuilding and rebuilding, albeit with little support and uncertainty.

“It is life,” says Akshimija. “But we do not say, ‘Oh, this is life,’ and we accept it. The Syrian refugees in the Al Auntk camp have shown us that we can and should do better to address the cultural and emotional needs of the displaced.

Leave a Comment