The Olive Grove Open Air Cinema is part of a first-of-its-kind project on Lesvos to incorporate skills training into the production of space for refugees. It represents a paradigm shift away from the perceptions of refugees and migrants as beneficiaries and recipients, towards co-creators and also tests new collaborative opportunities among architects, designers and established humanitarian aid agencies.
Working on a plot of land adjacent to Moria Hotspot that was once a productive olive grove, Office of Displaced Designers (ODD) devised and delivered a community based design and construction training program as an expansion of an existing Danish Red Cross (DRC) Psychosocial Support Initiative.
After the EU-Turkey deal in effect since March 20, 2016 the time spent by refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers on the island of Lesovs increased dramatically from days to months, with many people remaining for one year or more.
The lengthy asylum process combined with inadequate shelter solutions, lack of autonomy over diet, limited social spaces and a prison-like architectural language of concrete walls, razor wire, and chain link fences has contributed to an atmosphere of tension, feelings of helplessness and boredom.
Over the course of 4 months participants met 2-3 times weekly to complete the work. The construction schedule was designed to take into account the rhythm of camp life set by meal distribution times, cash disbursements, appointments and interviews. Following two open visioning sessions ODD presented a design that considered the unique challenges of working within the context of Moria Hotspot with a fluid construction team comprised of people with dramatically varying skill levels, different languages, and an unsecured work area.