From 19 to 28 January, 22 students of the Master’s in International Cooperation: Sustainable Emergency Architecture travelled to Thessaloniki, Greece to work on urban strategies for refugee and migrant integration as part of the international workshop in their study programme. Students were accompanied by the co-director for the Master’s, Carmen Mendoza, and the programme coordinator, Raquel Colacios.
This year, students received the assignment from the Arrival Cities Urban Response Team (URBACT), managed by the Thessaloniki municipality and the NGO ACNUR, to work on improving the area surrounding the train station and Stafous street. This very run-down is home to many refugees and migrants who currently live in tents. The goal of the project is to explore urban strategies for mobility, public space and the urban environment in the sector to integrate refugees in a sustainable way. The student’s proposals incorporated the results of an ethnographic study of the local and refugee population and included collaboration from a number of NGOs working in the area.
“We believe that integration needs to start from an urban scale, as it is important to consider the problem of housing and integration for refugees and migrants as part of the urban plan for contemporary cities, with solutions that incorporate every aspect of integration: housing, services, subsistence and the autonomy of refugees”, explains Carmen Mendoza.
Like every year, the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture worked together with students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and this year they were also joined by the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO).
In previous editions of the Master’s programme, students travelled to countries on other continents, such as Ecuador, Colombia, India and Brazil, to carry out reconstruction and sustainable development projects with the aim of renovating the areas where they were going to work, thereby improving the lives of the people in that place.