They were, those people, a kind of solution

The project They were, those people, a kind of solution is funded through European Union’s Creative Europe program.

Lecture Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti

Architecture of exile: the spatial order od refugee camps

Center for Peace Studies, Zagreb
Gallery Nova, Zagreb

Refugee camps should not exist in the first place: they represent a crime and a political failure. For over a century, camps have undermined the western notion of the city as a civic space in which the rights of citizens are inscribed and recognized. Camps are established with the intention of being demolished. They are meant to have no history and no future; they are meant to be forgotten. The history of refugee camps is constantly erased, dismissed by states, humanitarian organizations, international agencies and even by refugee communities themselves in fear that any acknowledgement of the present undermines their right of return. The only history that is recognized within refugee communities is one of violence, suffering, and humiliation. How then do we understand the life and culture that people build in camps, despite suffering and marginalization?

Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti have developed a research-project based artistic practice that is both theoretically ambitious and practically engaged in the struggle for justice and equality. They founded Campus in Camps, an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem with the aims to overcome conventional educational structures by creating a space for critical and grounded knowledge production ( In 2007 with Eyal Weizman they founded DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) in Beit Sahour, Palestine, with the aim to combine an architectural studio and an art residency able to gathered together architects, artists, activists, urbanists, film-makers, and curators to work collectively on the subjects of politics and architecture (

The program is supported by:

  • City Office for Education, Culture and Sports of the City of Zagreb
  • European Union’s Creative Europe program
  • Foundation for Arts Initiatives
  • Kultura Nova Foundation
  • Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
  • Office for Cooperation with NGOs of the Republic of Croatia

The Concrete Tent – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti with Haneen Abo Khiran, Lucia Disluci, Nathan Witt, Dalia Abu Hashish, Lucia Maffei, Margo Van Den Berge, Eduardo Cassina, Liva Dudareva, Arne Carpentier, Nick Axel, and Jacob Burns, refugee camp Dheisheh, 2012, Photo: Anna Sara