© Copyright Ellen Mulcrone

COMMUNITY CENTRE FOR REFUGEES

THESSALONIKI, GREECE

This was a long project, spanning over 6 months, over two trips to Thessaloniki, Greece, where I was volunteering.

 

With the use of a wood workshop provided by a volunteer organisation, Help Refugees, I designed and built this 5m wide geodesic dome. The intention behind the piece is to create a space where the women and children can gather and feel safe within the refugee camps. 

 

The camps are set up in derelict warehouses and often have no electricity, gas, heating or even windows. The conditions are dire and often quite dangerous because of the lack of light. As I was walking around a camp (1 of 32 camps at the time) I became aware that the women were often inside their tents and the men wandering around. I spoke to the women and children and asked if they would like a space to gather that felt safe. I received a very positive response to this, so went ahead with the build.

One aspect that was important to me was that it wasn't purely made by me. I wanted as many of the users to participate as felt comfortable to. The dome is made up of 64 triangular panels, all of which I snuck in to a military-controlled camp with bags and bags of donated clothes and some music, and everyone gathered to weave the fabrics in to the panels; women, men, grandmothers, children. It was a great success, and working this way created a sense of responsibility and ownership over the piece for the people living in the camps.

 

I designed the piece so it can be assembled and disassembled as needs be. This wa an important element as the camps are contantly being shut down and reopened somewhere else. Sine I left Greece it has been installed in both camps as well as at a science and technology festival.