To be a host in a hosting country

Ilaria Palmieri

Keywords: Refugee, Hospitality, Invitation,

My practice explores new processes towards knowing and calming spaces. It seeks to expand cooperation and introduce different research methods in working with asylum seekers that would bring new contents in their everyday life. It speculates on the domestic environment that may emerge through processes of listening, tracing and drawing together with those living on the front line of precariousness. Within this trajectory, I created a participatory practice through which refugees can have the spatial agency to be host as an empowerment tool while living in temporary structures far from home.

The Art of Invitation is the workshop I designed and introduced in different asylum seeker centres across The Netherlands. The aim is to start a conversation with any medium refugees feel like expressing themselves, to reflect on which space inside the centre they could claim by being a host. There is a moment, during the workshop, when these reflections are transformed into actions and participants are empowered by being hosts. 

The vision of Hospitality that my project shows, aims to reconsider the notion of privately owned and publicly owned space. My design continues in that direction developing a proposal for municipalities, recognizing that the current policy regulations lack an understanding from the refugee’s perspective and miss the necessity of creating collective spaces. I propose a new chapter called To be a host in a hosting country constituting new fundamental criteria for the planning of refugee centres.

My proposal comes to life not only with a new wording but also with illustrations that show how the architectural drawing is no longer exclusively about spatial configurations, but includes traces and objects of everyday use and patterns. The hope is that The Art of Invitation will constitute a base for the allocation of refugee centres with the presence of a collective space.