Dutch Pavilion At Venice Biennale Focuses On The Architecture Of Un Peacekeeping Missions

Discover together with Everything About Design of all things you need to know about BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions project.

‘reporting from the front’ is the theme of the 2016 venice architecture biennale, under which alejandro aravenahas curated projects from around the globe that focus on the need to provide growing numbers of people with accommodation and basic living conditions, under increasingly difficult circumstances. 

As the director of the 15th international architecture exhibition, aravena has identified front lines around the world where creative architects can bring about a breakthrough in extremely complex urban issues, not least of all in places of military conflict.

It is this particular topic that is the focus of malkit shoshan’s ongoing research into the architecture of the united nation’s (UN) peacekeeping missions.

BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

Under the auspices of the het nieuwe instituut, malkit shoshan, architect and founder of the architecture think tank FAST, was appointed curator of the dutch pavilion at the venice architecture beinnale 2016. A fellow at the institute for the past two years, shoshan has been dedicated to analyzing the particularly progressive way that the netherlands contributes to the UN’s peacekeeping activities.
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BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

The UN is responsible for hundreds of active peacekeeping missions across the globe. typically speaking, these are military bases that stand as self-sustaining communities, completely shut off from their direct surroundings.

It is the particularly extreme design of these compounds that mirrors the power structures and systems of peacekeeping forces; schemes that do not contribute to improving the lives of the inhabitants of these regions.

The UN talks in terms of ‘guidelines for the integrated approach’, uniting defense, diplomacy, and development. it is through her work that shoshan is urgently seeking new spatial solutions that provide social significance for these local communities, proposing the addition of a fourth ‘D’ for design.

The hope is that the UN base comes to be realized not as a closed complex, but a catalyst for local development.
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BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

Shoshan centres the dutch pavilion’s presentation ‘BLUE’ on the case study of camp castor in gao, mali. located in the desert region of the toeareg—berber people who are the principle inhabitants of the expansive sharah desert—it is one of the sites where the UN is carrying out a peacekeeping mission.

The color blue stands as a metaphor for the conflict, uniting architecture and human rights, as well as the toeareg who are known as ‘blue men’ because of their flowing indigo clothing; while activities are carried out by UN blue helmets.

In this nomadic region of west africa, borders are fluid and shift with seasons; and there is a state of permanent crisis as a result of war, climate change, sickness and hunger.

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BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

The confrontation between different systems—foreign and local, military and civilian, settlement and desert, blue helmets and blue people, the crisis and the dutch response—all provide the prerequisites for new spatial conditions.

By linking cultural research with architectural research, shoshan’s curation of the dutch pavilion seeks to visualize the spatial challenges and opportunities of this complex situation. ‘BLUE’ brings forth new narratives for architecture in conflict areas, central to which is the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.

Each story told is based on conversations between military engineers and architects, anthropologists and economists, activists and policy makers. dutch pavilion at venice biennale focuses on the architecture of UN peacekeeping missions 5

BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

For more images, follow designboom on our dedicated instagram account @venice.architecture.biennale

dutch pavilion at venice biennale focuses on the architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

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BLUE: architecture of UN peacekeeping missions
photo by iwan baan

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setting up camp castor, gao, mali
photo by the ministry of defense
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UN super camp under construction
photo by malkit shoshan
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camp castor, 2016
photo by malkit shoshan
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setting up camp castor, gao, mali
photo by the ministry of defense
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UN super camp, gao, mali
photo by malkit shoshan
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aerial photo of gao, mali, met UN bases
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cities with UN peacekeeping bases in africa
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malkit shoshan, curator of the dutch pavilion at the 2016 venice architecture biennale
image courtesy of het nieuwe instituut

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