Editors’ Choice
2019 Skyscraper Competition

Alexander Carolan
United States

One of the largest challenges in the world is the refugee crisis. In 2017, the crisis had affected an estimated 65.6 million people and the number continues to grow. As of 2019, the total number of migrants who have lost their lives on the journey out is a shocking 377. The term refugee is defined today as a group of people displaced from their home country due to persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. As the number of struggles continues to increase around the world, the population of displaced people proportionately increases. It is reaching an all-time high. As they assimilate, housing should provide a bridge between refugee status and permanent residency. Currently, refugees have inadequate housing. Not only is there too little housing, but the current camps also do not provide adequate support to find jobs, gain an education, support cultural activities or build communities. Camps are meant to be short term housing solutions. A more permanent housing community can provide support to establish new roots, to allow refugees to rebuild their lives and become engaged members of the community.

Borderline sets out to understand and respond to this global crisis through design. As refugees around the world try to find a new home in the western world, they are confronted with a lack of support and an increase in the number of barriers. With no possibility of returning to their original home. The refugees bond together to develop a new boundary that operates as a special economic zone.

The site of Borderline is key to its success. Located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa also know as the “Door into Europe”. This small Mediterranean island has been the frontier of this crisis as it is one of the closest European territories near North Africa.

Borderline’s new boundary will stretch across the currently invisible barrier of the Mediterranean Sea and act as a safety net. Currently, this route is one of the most dangerous with thousands of deaths a year. Borderline will produce boats and allow NGOs to operate from it to reduce the number of lives lost at sea. The production of boats will support the new economy. It uses its location to create an opportunity to develop successful trade. Through the support of other refugees, small business will pop up and grow, as access to labor and goods are accessible.

The architectural response will be in the form of a landscape skyscraper. This skyscraper must be able to react to the change in the number of refugees and their locations. The new structure is meant to respond to unofficial refugee camps like Idomeni in Greece and Calais jungle in France.

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