Work details
Application Number 0000801655
Author almubaraki, shaikha Fahad, United States
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Work title: Camps as Citites- The New Global Border (0000801655)

Since the crises stemming from the decolonization of Africa in the 1960''s, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been planning refugee camps as prototypical tent encampments. When the planning document which outlines formal guidelines for the establishment of camps emerged in 1982, it bore striking similarities with concurrent manuals- indicative of a certain moment in planning theory. However, while urban strategies evolved rapidly, the UNHCR manual has not changed to this day; a purely technocratic and temporal urbanism reenacted every time a refugee crisis occurs. These temporal refugee camps have a tendency to evolve rapidly into very unique permanent urban entities. With time the inhabitants of the camp begin to collect positive associations with their new home, and markets, defined infrastructure, street names, neighborhoods with a specific character, shops, playgrounds, churches, mosques etc. appear, subtly transforming the camp into a place to live with an identity constructed in the image of the population. This process that leads from infant camps to quasi-mature urban agglomerations is the potential that this project engages in. The project will also attempt to reveals the traces of urbanism that are emerging in camps. Today there are approximately 36 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide, thus camps are no longer local and isolated phenomena, but have become large regions for diverse human settlements. The borders of these camps so often overlap creating new opportunities for interaction and intervention. Different ethnic groups that have long been divided by colonial borders and wars, now coexist in the confinement of the camps borders. The Sudan/Chad border, on the Chad side, has become populated with Northern, Western, and Southern Darfurians that have been in conflict since the independence of Sudan from England in 1956. Within the camp these conflicting groups interact, negotiate, and appropriate the camp transforming it into a city. Currently, the density of inhabitants in these camps alone has increased the population of Chad to four percent. This statistic alone suggests that these camps have the potential to become a new type of urban condition. Thus, can we re-imagine these new types of urbanism as opportunities for reuniting groups that have divided by war? Can they become a self-sustainable community that becomes a role model for larger nations in dispute? Can the series of camps located on the Chadian border merge to become one self sustainable Nation-State? Can the camp become a node for attraction- replacing the city as a paradigm for contemporary society. Refugee camps provide the unique opportunity to learn about how people - under often extremely hostile conditions – co exist, reincorporate, and manifest their needs on a new site. Materials are imaginatively re-appropriated, gridded layouts adapted and consolidated, and social preferences incorporated into the fabric of the new urban growth. No other phenomenon allows for a similarly clear and accessible analysis of the dynamics of the emergence of urban spaces that intersect many current global borders.