On Monday 18 February, an international workshop organised by the UIC Barcelona Master’s in International Cooperation: Sustainable Emergency Architecture was launched at the Pati Llimona Community Centre in the Ciutat Vella district, in collaboration with Barcelona City Council’s programme, Ciutat Refugi (Barcelona, Refuge City). The aim of the workshop is to provide students with two weeks to assess refugee reception centres from several countries around the world. Following their analysis, they created their own proposals for reception centres, including accommodation and services for the sustainable integration of refugees in Barcelona.
During the first week, master’s students joined another 40 students from the Mundus Urbano Master’s, a joint programme coordinated by four European universities: UIC Barcelona School of Architecture, Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany), Université Pierre Mendès Grenoble (France) and Universitá Tor Vergata Roma (Italy). In total, 65 international students were involved in the initiative.
“The interesting thing about Barcelona is that there are a cluster of NGOs that are working together with the City Council to guarantee that refugees have support from the moment they arrive until they become independent”, highlighted lecturers Carmen Mendoza and Raquel Colacios during the opening session of the workshop.
The opening session also featured words from Ousman Umar, a Ghanian man who spent five years trying to enter Europe and now runs the NGO Nasco in Barcelona, which provides educational materials to children and young people in Ghana. “The best way to help refugees is by listening to them, because breaks down any stereotypes you might have about them. Offering them accommodation is also a basic requirement so they can start new lives”, he said.
On 19 February, students also received a visit from Esteban León, head of the UN-Habitat CRPP office in Barcelona, who spoke about the need to work in a coordinated way so that the cities are prepared to receive refugees—even before a migratory crisis occurs. Ignasi Calbó, coordinator of the Barcelona, Refugee City office, also spoke on behalf of students. He praised the commitment made by Barcelona City Council to receive refugees in a sustainable way, in contrast to the situation in so many other European cities. “For the city of Barcelona there are no immigrants or refugees. There are only citizens with rights”, he declared.
After the introductory sessions, the 65 students who took part in the workshop carried out case studies on models of reception centres for asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants. Finally, UIC Barcelona students presented proposals aimed at improving the sustainable integration of refugees in a number of districts in the city, which aims to avoid ghettos being created.
This is the third year that UIC Barcelona has hosted this workshop, held under the framework of the Mundus Urbano programme in which the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture participates through the Master’s in International Cooperation: Sustainable Emergency Architecture.