Slotpresentatie Bram van Ooijen

vrijdag 1 december, 16u00

Vrijdag 1 december vindt de slotpresentatie van Bram van Ooijen, getiteld “Al-Wihdat refugee camp in Amman”. Hieronder vind je een samenvatting over het afstudeerproject.

Bram van Ooijen

Margit Schuster (RAvB), chairman
Martin Aarts (Stadsontwikkeling Gemeente Rotterdam), mentor
Mark Veldman (OMA), critic
Jan Willem Petersen (Specialists Operations), critic

Afstudeerdatum en locatie
Vrijdag 1 december, aanvang 16u00
Auditorium, begane grond

De slotbijeenkomsten van onze afstudeerders zijn openbaar toegankelijk, je bent van harte welkom om deze bij te wonen!
“Al-Wihdat refugee camp in Amman”
A Wihdattopia to get an exception to a standard

Conflict and persecution caused global forced displacement to escalate. Recent­ly statistics reached the highest level ever recorded in history. Today 65.3 million people, or one person in 113, were displaced from their homes. When it comes to refugee shelter there is an important misconception. The traditional image of refugees living in sprawling tents no longer tells the true story of refugee movements in the 21 century. Most refugees now make their ways to cities as refugee camps present extremely poor living and security conditions. Compared to camps, cities present obvious opportunities to build a better future, and that’s why millions of refugees now live in and migrate towards urban settings.
While Europe closes its borders a new phenomenon in other unstable parts of the world is on the rise called refuge cities. Cities that due to regional conflict and crisis grow at unprecedented rates. Urbanized area’s that because of forced migration sometimes – in extreme circumstances – double in population numbers annually. Causing humanitarian problems and huge spatial challenges within the boundaries of existing living environments. Wihdatopia wants to raise a voice for this invisible phenomenon.

Drawing on the influential writing of Arendt, Foucault, and Agamben, much of the literature on refugees and refugee camps has generally emphasized the liminality and extraordinariness of the space of the camp. Camps have often been juxtaposed to the city. Whereas the latter has come to represent normality, the camp has been portrayed as the site of hardened national identities and political ide­ologies or, conversely, as a place of confinement for speechless victims. This approach might result in overlooking the intricate social relations that refu­gees can develop with the city, and maintaining unchanged biased representations of them.
If we want to understand the complexity of refugee camps, we should refrain from contrasting the city to the camp. More than that, we should move beyond the discussion of whether refugee camps are best defined in terms of closeness and openness, and examine how these dimensions are and can be ultimately intercon­nected.

A good place to explore this ambiguous relationship is al-Wihdat: a refugee camp fully integrated in the urban fabric of Amman, still administered as a temporary space almost sixty years after its establishment, and inhabited by refugees who enjoy full Jordanian citizenship.
Al-Wihdat camp can be seen as a mirror to the hosting state where some aspects of it confirm through its similarity but also unsettle through its rejection of the norms outside the settlement. Which lessons can be learned from this het­erotopian space? This research investigates the camps possibility of becoming the norm from a state of exception. This is done by examining its historical development, and designing the interconnected relationship camps and cities can develop. By doing so it gives an example of how refugee camps ultimately can become cities. Reflecting on this practice, the important lessons and recommen­dations are bundled in a manifesto: Wihdatopia, if refugee camps are the cities of tomorrow.

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