When we decided to create the Hill Station we decided as members of our community that we wanted to see something change for the better. We found a space, we found money, we found each other to help make it happen and we created something that we all feel is our own.
That’s a process we hope to reinterpret for the refugee camp where we are working. They have public spaces of course but most of them – the school, the community centre, the sports ground – are owned by an institution. the exception we found was a mosque that the residents had ingeniously created with wire and blankets and waste insulation material, between 4 of the shelters. It had a completely different feel to the rest of the camp. A cared for feel. And innovative too – 20,000 refugees have these solar lamps and it’s the first time anybody had seen them suspended in the ceiling like this (charging panel on the top of the lamp is therefore outside).
So after conversations and workshops with young people, residents, staff and volunteers some common themes started to emerge. A need for colour, a hunger for the natural world, an appetite for making the shelters more like homes. A wish for more love and more togetherness. We started looking for a space to make this happen.
Everybody needs water. For some of the women it’s the only time they leave the shelter all day, gathering at the water tap with an assortment of containers. The children have made sleds from half containers so they can drag the heavy vessels back instead of carrying them. Some had even created wheelbarrows using discarded crates from the supermarket, wheels from somewhere and pieces of wood. It’s the only time we saw people standing and chatting.
There’s a water tap on each of the 15 blocks of the village where we are working. We plumped for the one nearest the school and the bridge to the other village. When we discovered the community made mosque on the side of this square it was perfect.
Time is short so the design needed to be strong. Working to create the space, visible at a distance and able to be implemented by Patricio and his team of volunteer painter artists. The play between diamonds and squares, the echo of the roofline, the need for strong colours converged in this design for the shelters and toilets around the square. It is now being implemented. They have decided to call it Hope Square.