Resettlement: Asylum Seekers and a new Global Community

UPENN Fall 2009
Design Studio III

According to the Geneva Convention, a refugee is anyone who has a ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion’ and countries, which have signed it, have an obligation to take in refugees.

In the US, any ‘alien’ seeking asylum is subjected to multiple background checks. In the interim, they are often detained in cell like conditions, psychologically stripping them of their privacy and in some cases, their humanity. Incredibly, since 1975, the United States has resettled approximately 2.6 million refugees within its borders.

Resettlement is a primary strategy towards the protection of asylum seekers; it additionally creates a burden that no one entity claims responsibility. Integration itself is a long arduous process that has integral legal, economic and socio-cultural dimensions.

Urban centers have always been a ‘melting pot’ of cultures and hence had sharp cultural and economic divides. Historically, few public programs existed which allowed diversity without question — at least in inception — with exception of the Public Baths. Predominantly a source of good health and hygiene, the vast majority of urban dwellers used the public baths as a quasi-social space.

The objectives of this studio are to investigate, analyze, and produce new relationships emergent from and within contending programs; a multi-cultural dwelling complex and the inherent diversity of the public pool. Additionally, we will investigate and understand economies of the urban context and the potential merge between those existing communities that can develop and provide for the new resettlement.

Student: Alexandria Mathieu

Student: Alexandria Mathieu

Student: Federica Von Euw

Student: Federica Von Euw

Student: Riggs Skepnek

Student: Riggs Skepnek