ON-THE-GROUND SOLUTIONS: How we all SHOULD be tackling this crisis!
Eko Project, our amazing day camp in Thessaloniki, Greece…just gets better and better thanks to our amazing team on the ground there!
This week our volunteer architectural designer Ryan headed back out to Eko to oversee the construction of the designs he drew up for us.
He was amazed at how things have developed. Our camp coordinators Dan and Mary have been busy creating a new library, classroom and ‘dream space.’
This dream space is a multifunctional learning space for kids and adults inside a previously unused barn. Adults can sit on the steps like in a lecture theatre, and the kids can use the steps as a den or maze to run, jump, hide and seek.
This week we previewed the space with a cinema night, lots of play days and community meet ups. The adults played football in the barn and the kids made glitter hats. The team arranged food for everyone during the day from our makeshift kitchen…
That brings us on to our next plan…
We’re going to create a cafe. Ryan is designing it with aim to bring the community of various nationalities together through food.
The team is currently in the process of collecting materials to create the cafe, using things that organisations like the UNHCR throw out and don’t need anymore.
Despite using up-cycled materials at a low cost, the design will be dignified, interesting, and above all, a appealing space people will want to connect in.
Ryan made a truly interesting observation this week. He said:
“I can’t stop thinking about how many trained, talented architects there are out there, and then how many humanitarian agencies are currently grappling to find architectural solutions to problems… but there seems to be little collaboration between them.
I’ve noticed that the majority of these camps are not designed by architects, but by army planners, humanitarian organisations, and in some cases inexperienced and unskilled grassroots volunteers.
This leads to many problems…things like rainwater gathering on top of tents, or flooding camps, electric heaters being sent by the UNHCR to camps that don’t have electricity, outbreaks of disease and conflicts between groups forced to live unnaturally side by side.
Us architects have the skill set to ease these problems and collaboration between architects and humanitarian organisations, I feel, could be amazing.”