THE [SEASONAL] ARRIVAL CITY: Designing for migrants’ transient right to the city

Doug Saunders‘s (2011) prophetic assertion in the ‘the Arrival City’ about ‘the great, and final, shift of human populations out of rural, agricultural life and into cities’ seems to be falling flat under the strong populist winds and anti-migration sentiment sweeping the planet. Similar to the failure of Fukuyama‘s (1992) claim on ‘the end of history’ through the spread of Western Liberal Democracy, Saunders’s argument is marred by a linear view of history and national politics. Forces and actors of all kinds are not only evicting communities from the territories they inhabit, but also devising convoluted forms of invisualisation and manipulation to deny them the ‘rights to the city’. This has led to a prevalence of adaptive strategies involving short-term and non-linear movements that challenge our understanding of migration and ‘arrival to the city’.

Concomitantly, ‘the architecture of the camp’ seems to be taking hold of the planet, albeit in diverse and varied forms. Whether it be the sprawling ‘tent cities’ housing the homeless in the North American suburbia, or seasonal farmworker settlements in Southern Europe and the UK, or refugee camps within, at, and beyond the frontiers Europe, or seasonal migrant settlements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Diverse in geographic location, what binds these settlements is not only their ephemeral materiality, but also the contested nature of its inhabitant’s citizenship. Municipalities, regional governments, states, and local communities often try to invisualise the claims of such ‘irregular migrants’ for a variety of reasons. Whether it be for segregation and maintaining economic inequality through measures such as ‘redlining’ and ‘vicious debt cycles’ forced on communities of colour in North America. Whether they entail invisualising seasonal farm labour to reduce social costs and force people into deplorable working conditions to increase profitability in production. Moreover, such conditions are also motivated by efforts to hold migrants liminal between refuge and exile so that their claims to territory are never established.

Through this week-long workshop, the students of MAS Housing will explore suitable design prototypes for shelter and infrastructure, devise collective strategies, and prepare critical visual narratives that present alternatives to the status quo. The outputs will be shared through a publication tentatively entitled THE [SEASONAL] ARRIVAL CITY. While the workshop is closed, the following lectures are open to public:

16.03 (0900-1030) The Seasonal Arrival City Nitin Bathla, ETH Zurich

(1030-1200) Permanently temporary (Housing) in Indian cities Rakhi Mehra, Micro Home Solutions

(1700-1800) Visual thinking for ‘unflattening’ the world Nitin Bathla, ETH Zurich

18.03 (0900-1030) DESIGN OR DIE:

Activate, Empower, Improve, Iterate

Antonio Scarponi, Conceptual Devices

at Hermetschloostrasse 70

19.03 (0900-1030) BE/COMING HOME:

of Neustart Schweiz and the delight in

getting involved with another city

Stefania Koller

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