fbpx Biennale Architettura 2021 | Azra Aksamija; Melina Philippou
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Azra Aksamija; Melina Philippou

Displaced Empire: Al Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan

  • TUE - SUN
    22/05 > 31/07
    11 am - 7 pm

    01/08 > 21/11
    10 am - 6 pm
  • Arsenale
  • Admission with ticket

Azra Aksamija (Austrian, b.1976) and Melina Philippou (Cypriot, b.1988) of MIT Future Heritage Lab (USA, est.2016) in collaboration with Natalie Bellefleur (Canadian, b.1992), Stratton Coffman (American, b .1992), Jaya A. Eyzaguirre (Chilean/American, b.1992), Lillian P. H. Kology (American, b.1985), Catherine Lie (Indonesian, b.1992), Calvin Zhong (American, b.1996) of MIT Future Heritage Lab, Zeid Madi (Jordanian, b.1991) of Cluster Labs (Jordan, est.2016), Raafat Majzoub (Lebanese, b.1986) of The Khan (Lebanon, est.2016), Mary Mavrohanna (Cypriot, b.1994) of the University of Cyprus (Cyprus, est.1989), Dietmar Offenhuber (Austrian, b.1973) of Northeastern University (USA, est.1898)



The traditional ideal of living in a single-family home on privately-owned land is no longer tenable. Conflicts, climate change, and inequality are key factors shaping this new reality of scarcity and displacement. How can architecture shape this new model of life? What can architecture do for and learn from the displaced? Focused on Al Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, one of the region’s largest camps established in 2014 to shelter more than 35,000 displaced Syrians, Displaced Empire speculates about a near-future world, in which the majority of people have been forcibly displaced. Al Azraq Camp has become the capital of the global “displaced empire.”


CAST—International Exhibition and Performance Grant
J-WEL Grant in Education Innovation
LCAU—Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism
MISTI Program for the Arab World
MIT School of Architecture and Planning
Transmedia Storytelling Initiative
UROP — Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
The Aga Khan Museum Toronto
The Art Prize of the City of Graz
The Graham Foundation
Kunsthaus Graz
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky
project grant by the Austrian Federal Chancellery
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
CARE Jordan
MIT program in Art, Culture and Technology
Norwegian Refugee Council, Jordan School of Architecture and Built Environment at the German-Jordanian University

Production credits

Research PI and Artistic Project: Azra Aksamija
Installation Concept: Azra Aksamija, Lillian P. H. Kology, Zeid Madi, Dietmar Offenhuber, Melina Philippou.

T-Serai Tent
Tent concept and design
: Azra Akšamija
Research team: Azra Akšamija, Natalie Bellefleur, Lillian P. H. Kology, Jonathan Kongoletos, Daniella Maamari, Melina Philippou
Prototype development and fabrication: Azra Akšamija, Natalie Bellefleur, Lillian P. H. Kology
Fabrication assistance: Lyza Baum, Joseph Burnhoe, Graham Yaeger
T-Serai Workshop at the American University of Sharjah produced in collaboration with Alya Alzaabi, Rebecca Beamer, Isabela Marchi Tavares De Melo
T-Serai Workshops in Al Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan conducted in collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council
Creators of T-Serai tapestries from Azra Aksamija’s MIT course “Foundations in the Arts, Design, and Spatial Practices,” (Spring 2019): Zidane Abubakar, Lisbeth Acevedo Ogando, Erika Anderson, Alexander Boccon-Gibod, Landon Buckland, Jierui Fang, Alejandro Gonzalez-Placito, Alice Ho, Effie Jia, Seo Yeon Kwak, Daniel Landez, Christopher Larry, Yi Yang, Annie Zhang, with the support of Cherie Miot Abbanat, Jaya Eyzaguirre, Yaara Yacoby
Syrian participants of T-Serai Workshop in Al Za’atari (Fall 2019): Lames Ajaber, Amal Alali, Yusra Alalo, Emarat Aldokhi, Haneen Alhenawi, Asma Almahasneh, Qosoon Almatar, Asma Aljaber, Khaldeja Alkhalef, Yusra Aloa, Khazna Alramleh, Khlood Alramleh, Nada Alsalem, Nisreen Alzayed, Mervat Asad, Misaa Arajeb, Fatma Alqadi, Marwa Nsyrat, with the support of Azra Akšamija and Melina Philippou

Reverse Urbanization Almanachs
Research leads
: Azra Aksamija, Melina Philippou, Zeid Madi, Raafat Majzoub, Muteeb Awad Al Hamdan
Syrian designers at the Azraq camp: Ali Fawaz, Abu Al Ajnabi, Abu Mohammad Al Homsani, Amer Yassin Abu Haitham, Mohammed Khaled Marzouqi, Majid Al Kan’an, Farez Jamel Vousel
Syrian authors of poems and stories at the Azraq Camp: Heba Al Saleh, Nagham Al Saleh, Nour Ghassan, Samer Al-Naser, Hana’a Ahmed, Kifah Akeel, Hussein Al-Abdallah, Hasan Al-Abdallah, Hatem Al-Balkhy, Wa’el Al-Faraj, Nagham Alsalha, Heba Caleh, Mohammed Al-Hamedy, Ahma Al-Hassan, Jar Al-Naby Abazaid, Yassin Al-Yassin, Mustafa Hamadah, Jameel Homede, Abdulkarim Ihsan, Ahmad Khalaf, Rawan Maher Hossin, Mohammed Mizail, Jameel Mousli, Mohammed Shaban
Photographic survey of inventions at the Azraq camp: Zeid Madi, Nabil Sayfayn and Al Azraq Journal
Team members: Hussain Al-Abdullah, Yassin Al-Yassin, Mohammad Al-Qo’airy, Mohammad Al-Mez’al
2D & 3D representation of inventions by MIT students and alumni: Noora Aljabi, Andrea Baena, Catherine Anabella Lie, Khan Nguyen, Melina Philippou, Michelle Xie, Stella Zhujing Zhang, Calvin Zhong, Ziyuan Zhu
Advisors in Amman - German-Jordanian University: Rejan Ashour, Mohammad Yaghan
Banners design: Azra Aksamija, Natalie Bellefleur, Jaya A. Eyzaguirre, Stratton Koffman, Lillian Kology, Zeid Madi, Mary Mavrohanna, Dietmar Offenhuber, Melina Philippou, Calvin Zhong
Denim laser-burn fabrication: Azra Aksamija, Stratton Koffman, Lillian Kology, Cameron Silva
Poem: Hana’a Ahmed, Muteeb Awad Al-Hamdan, Azra Aksamija, Omar Dahmous, Omar Darwish, Raed Suleiman
Collaboration diagram: Dietmar Offenhuber

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Biennale Architettura
Biennale Architettura