Winter Elective_

Post-Detention: Housing Refugees in Melbourne

Coordinators: Jennifer Ferng (Architecture)  and Sophie Maalsen (Urban Planning)
Partner organisations: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Footscray (with participation of University of Melbourne academics); Architects for Peace (TBC)
Teaching Schedule: 2 week intensive during July 2017 (2-5 July in Melbourne, 10-11 July in Sydney, 13-16 July in Melbourne)
Additional Costs: Estimated at $1200 for 2 trips to Melbourne
Subject Code: ARCH9088
To apply: Please email your name, SID and course to Matthew Kavanagh by Friday 28 April 2017 to secure your place.

Prime Minister John Howard’s Pacific Solution dictated a harsh treatment of asylum seekers since 2001, forcing mandatory detention upon international migrants wishing to enter Australia as protected residents. We are interested in several themes that tie into contemporary debates about asylum seekers: specifically, the architecture of detention centres and their debilitating effects on detainees; the spatial ambiguity and liminal temporality of detention centres as places of waiting and limbo; engagement and reception; housing refugees after their applications are accepted. The elective will trace the full journey of an asylum seeker from detainee to resident and citizen by analysing the global origins of those who come to Australia and the political conflicts faced by refugees when settling in western countries. The final outcome will be an architectural design for a sharehouse intended as a transitional home for newly welcomed refugees and which attends to race, gender, cultural and religious differences. This will be accompanied by an urban design report that analyzes some of the qualitative and quantitative factors of these communities.  

By combining architectural design with geographic analysis and ethnographic interviews, our elective instead focuses on the reintegration of refugees into local communities and urban contexts around Australia. This strategy, which emphasises community participation, urban analysis, and open-minded cultural understanding, as we propose, offers a much better answer to the complex questions posed by the system of mandatory detention.  

The elective will entail: a case study of one Australian domestic detention centre (Maribyrnong in Melbourne) and site visits to Footscray and Melbourne CBD; Team-based teaching between architecture and geography/urban planning (introducing students to ethnography and oral interviews). Teaching of select research methods; Group design of a concept for an urban sharehouse for refugees, situated in/near an immigration centre.