MDes Lecture: Malkit Shoshan, “Architecture and Conflict, BLUE: ISLANDS IN CITIES”

The United Nations has active peacekeeping missions in hundreds of sites around the world. The military bases are self-sustaining islands, shut off from their direct surroundings. The design of these compounds mirrors the power structures and systems of the peacekeeping forces and makes no contribution to improving the lives of the inhabitants of these regions. There is an urgent need to reach new spatial solutions that can also have significance for local communities.

Imagine a United Nations compound in the vicinity of a rapidly growing city in the Sahel. The compound is planned and construct promptly by military engineers. It contains infrastructure such as water, electricity, housing, medical clinic, and sports facilities. It operates as a self-sufficient entity that has little interaction with its surroundings.

The city in its vicinity is struck by poverty, long periods of drought and militarized conflicts. It struggles to provide its inhabitants with regular access to water, food and shelter, and it is expected to triple in size within the next twenty years. 

The crisis and the confrontation between different systems – foreign and local, military and civilian, settlement and desert – provides the prerequisites for new spatial potentials.

BLUE: ISLANDS IN CITIES aims to open up the base, such that resources and knowledge will be shared with the local population already from the beginning of a UN operation. At the end of the mission, the base will be gone, and the city will be stronger. Its inhabitants will be empowered to reconstruct and maintain their own environment.

The case study of the workshop will be Camp Castor in Gao, Mali.

BLUE is a project by Malkit Shoshan. BLUE will be the Dutch entry to the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale and is currently exhibited at the UN Headquarter in NY.

Malkit Shoshan is the founder of think tank FAST (The Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory) and the curator of the Dutch pavilion at the upcoming Venice Architecture Biennale 2016. Her work explores the relationship between architecture, politics, and human rights. She is the author of the award-winning book Atlas of Conflict, Israel-Palestine (pub. 010 publishers, 2010), and of Village (pub. Damiani, 2014).

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office at (617) 496-2414 or events@gsd.harvard.edu.