BUILDING FOR THE INVISIBLE | Copenhagen, Denmark | Unit 21 | 2014
Rethinking the Concept of Danish Asylum Centres
The regenerated Folkets Park in Norrebro is an user-driven urban park where asylum seekers, citizens of Copenhagen and everyone else can meet, share experiences and learn from one another. The landscape also performs as a community centre uniting the neighbourhood. Various activities encourage a social and cultural exchange between the participants regenerating the area and integrating asylum seekers.
Currently there is a growing debate in Europe about the reception of asylum seekers. Politicians as well as the media portray the asylum seekers, with diverse personalities and backgrounds, as a mass of uniform individuals. The asylum seekers do not only loose their identity, but are discriminated and stereotyped negatively, as they are increasingly perceived as a threat to the social cohesion within the population. In Denmark, as in other countries, they are isolated from the society through the segregation of asylum centres from the cities, which means that they become invisible for the society. Ironically the architecture profession does participate in the discussion of how to ensure a meaningful and dignified stay in the asylum centres.
Thus my claim is, that the architecture profession needs to take a position in the political debate about accommodating asylum seekers, and establish an architectural discourse! Once an asylum seeker applied for asylum in Europe, he/she becomes our neighbour and needs to be integrated in the society. It is our social responsibility to improve the situation of this minority group.