Powerhouse: Connecting Asylum Seekers to the City. Model Perspective Mezzanine and Skylight, Megan Blake, 2017.
This project aims to address the social isolation of Asylum Seekers in Denmark and hopes to explore how an urban social and cultural space could help to integrate asylum seekers, provide a space for exchange and help foster a sense of belonging in Denmark.
Between 3.000 and 7.000 asylum seekers come to Denmark every year. They are housed in rural asylum centres around the country, while waiting for the Danish Immigration Service and the Refugees Appeal Board to decide their cases. The wait can be anywhere from a few months to years, and some cases get stalled indefinitely, leaving these asylum seekers in a state of limbo, not able to start a real life in Denmark, and unwilling or unable to go home.
The proposal is a transformation of an existing building in the urban centre of Copenhagen into a community house, market place, and social space for refugees. The project included a spatial program and plan as well as a designed centrepiece; a central stair that breaks through the existing slab and travels up through the space to connect the various functions and vertical levels. The stair design was developed through extensive prototyping and model making, and was finally produced in a large, 1:20 model of the entire space.
This project seeks to define a physical scenario that would enrich the lives of asylum seekers and address their needs, outside of their physical requirements, through architecture and design. The installation of a bespoke designed piece was intentionally proposed in contrast to the stark, surveilled, institutional spaces that refugees inhabit within the system.