Richard Rothwell + Tom Wakelam // Mannheim

The merger of two individual research interests, Geflüchtlingsnation was a joint project between two 5th year students investigating the potential future refugee situation in Germany, and how the perception of refugees can be redefined for the betterment of all.

Located at Spinelli Barracks to the North East of central Mannheim, the project is set between 2030 and 2050 in a future where human driven climate change has forced millions of people to flees their homes in sub-saharan Africa for Europe. Faced by this massive refugees influx, the German government recognises that traditional mitigation strategies are unsuitable, and instead trials a series of semi-independent interlinked zones across Germany where refugees can live, work, and travel autonomously. Dubbed ‘Geflüchtlingsation’, [Refugee Nation], the scheme spreads across Europe and the Middle-East, eventually creating a genuine safe route across the Mediterranean and integrating into the EU to allow refugees full rights to work and freedom of movement.

Spinelli Barracks will host approximately 7000 refugees and will be set out in blocks on a six meter grid, with one block designed in detail as a template for rest of the scheme. In a deliberate move away from the zonal management strategy of refugee camps, each block comprises a range of residential, communal, and civic building typologies. This close proximity of multiple activities creates dynamic social spaces that facilitate the ‘soft’ human infrastructure required for a genuine arrival city. Four WikiHouse based incremental housing configurations make up the bulk of the block, with a common house providing shared facilities to counter the base houses comparatively small size. In the centre of the block, a plastic recycling centre and community workshop in the North and a biogas digester and CHP plant in the South are connected by an open deck with allotments, green space and a terrace freely accessible to all.

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