Design Unlikely Futures and the Jungle

Healy, Liam and Loizeau, Jimmy. 2017. 'Design Unlikely Futures and the Jungle'. In: Making Home in Wounded Places: Design, Memory, and the Spatial. New York, United States 3-4 March 2017. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Since 2015 Design Unlikely Futures (DUF) have been developing collaborative and participatory practices for documenting ‘The Jungle’: an unofficial camp that existed on wasteland outside Calais in Northern France. Until its demolition in November 2016 the camp provided temporary refuge to a population of up to 10,000 people. DUF are now developing ethnographic, topographic and cartographic ‘thick descriptions’ (Geertz, 2000) with residents and their architectures through participatory processes and tools.

A bespoke bicycle with built in cameras was deployed prior to the camp’s demolition, generating new opportunities to challenge the dynamics of researcher and researched. The bicycle brought residents, volunteers, and even riot police ‘into play’ and facilitated an intimate access to the camp. Turning cameras inwards towards its riders, the bicycle strove to co-author documentation and representation of this population in transit. We are continuing to edit and produce films with residents we met in the camp.

Not recognised as a refugee camp it was offered little to no state aid, instead UK government sponsored walls and fences were erected. Despite demanding conditions in the camp, the stark difference in these architectures reveals self-organisation of the camp through resilience and creativity in opposition to state sanctioned ‘container/containment-architecture’. In the lifetime of the the camp, residents and volunteers constructed DIY infrastructures: housing, shops/cafes, legal centres, churches and mosques. Simultaneously media coverage and political rhetoric depicted the residents as “swarms” or “waves” of non-people in a non-space.

Where disasters and humanitarian crisis’ unfold globally, dominant problem-solving, ‘firmative’ approaches look to design ‘back to normal’ and to enable ‘business as usual’ (Uncertain Commons 2013). This approach however, does not fully respond to populations existing in an extended state of emergency and requires more nuanced interventions than typically associated with design and speculative practice.

To date our interventions have started exploring how we can learn from, engage with and communicate the overlooked everyday narratives and textures of this and other camps and their residents.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

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3 March 2017Completed

Event Location:

New York, United States

Date range:

3-4 March 2017

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Date Deposited:

16 Oct 2019 14:09

Last Modified:

30 Apr 2021 15:48


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