Andrea Giger

Living Within

On the fringe of Neu Oerlikon, a ‘durchgangszentrum’ temporarily hosts 100 asylum seekers. Its dreary, seemingly abandoned outlook marks the start of a profound investigation of the regulations, realities and spatial conditions that refugees face. Conversation with refugees lie at the heart of the research: an audio walk illustrates the disconnect between their spatial needs and experiences and the ones encountered in Neu Oerlikon. A close reading of the architectural layout of the ‘durchgangszentrum’ further testifies of his spatial politics geared towards isolation and segregation – thresholds are used to divide, not to mediate – instead of encounter and inclusion. What is the role of architecture in the deployment of the state’s migration policy? Is it possible to use architecture to try to change it? This master thesis sketches out a typology of living together on the MFO-site that relies on smaller housing units equipped with retreat possibilities, while collective spaces for everyday being allow for spatial generosity and togetherness. A spatial layout that combines seclusion and inclusion, allowing for bottom-up support and solidarity to act as potential counter to state-driven migration policies.