Designing for the Displaced: University Students Build Community Centre with Refugees in Germany

Build together. Learn together. That’s the mantra of an architectural course at the University of Kaiserslautern in Mannheim, Germany where 18 students worked alongside 25 refugees to create a warm, light-filled structure to serve as a temporary home for displaced people. The Community Centre Spinelli Barracks Mannheim is a 500-square-meter building that was crafted from the minds of aspiring young architects over the course of a summer semester. This participatory building project allowed students to see the project come to life through their own handiwork. Through initial design, execution drawing, structural planning, visualizations and cost planning, the students gained firsthand experience of the architectural process. The refugees themselves also had an unprecedented opportunity to gain different skills and invest in their new home. According to the university, the refugees actively shaped their environment and “improved their knowledge of the German language, experienced conditions and working stands in Germany and acquired new skills which will be useful even if they can’t stay in Germany on a permanent basis.” The city administration of Mannheim supported the project and allowed it to come to fruition on the ...
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