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Part of the series #matteroffuck

Shelter as Bypass

April 30, 2016
(Conversing with a photograph taken at the Idomeni refugee camp)

They look like refugees.
(they’re just valves that regulate the flow of migration routes).

They look like houses.
(they’re just ways of dodging the systems of control).

They don’t look comfortable.
(they don’t try to be)

Europe sees the tents as structuring the camp.
The refugees treat the tents as instants in the territory.

SHELTER AS BYPASS from Irma Arribas on Vimeo.



(a tightness in your chest, stuffy interiors, suffocating exteriors and a nauseated body)

Habibi, are you OK?

95% of the right coronary artery is obstructed, blood isn’t flowing and the territory of the body is cold, getting colder.
The operation is meant to reinforce the blood vessels and clear the obstruction, because we want to keep the patient alive, don’t we?

With anesthetic and X-rays, the stent is inserted successfully. The small metal mesh tube finally opens the border crossing into the muscle of life.

After the spring, the reports on the flow are favorable, the stent has permitted free circulation – real progress, which would not have been possible without technology and science.

The obstruction of the right coronary artery has the potential to cause lesions beyond the nearby areas. It could affect the lungs, cutting off the supply of oxygen, which would lead to the death of the body, the network, the system, the whole.


When I got back, because I am an architect, I was invited to rethink the refugee camps and how their spaces are built.

I don’t think we need to reflect on how the camps are built. I think we need to consider permitting the flow of migration, from a political standpoint and from an architectural standpoint.

Rolling shelters?
Roadside assistance?
A grand Ca®n-i-(a)val parade?

I don’t think the building material of the camps is physical. I think they’re built of time.

Quantitative aspects are covered by NGOs, companies that manage people’s bodies. Qualitative aspects are taken care of by volunteers, who use their own time to construct other people’s time.

To curb the management of hope transformed into desire, desire into obsession, obsession into frustration and to infinity and beyond, there’s no money.
there’s no support,
there’s no political interest, but there is civic interest
because there’s control,
there’s power,
there’s mediocrity,
there’s the global discourse,
there’s a job,
a salary that determines,
a recognition you don’t recognize,
a life support mask,
chasing eternal youth,
being a talisman,
being saddened by death…
without celebrating life.

Europe sees the tents as constructive elements in an urbanism of coexistence, an architectural convenience for those who believe in buildings as elements of the material urbanism of habitation, and not of being.

The tents are elements for the streets, plazas in the refugee camp. That kind of thinking leads you to professional efforts that perpetuate a perspective of inequality, the power of your capabilities over those of the people they help, an obstacle to their flow, revealing your uneasiness in the face of the existence of other worlds.

The tents are threshold spaces between the future and the past, between the assembled social group and the one you’re aiming for; they are windows onto the expanded territory, onto the possible.

They could be edible, to give you enough energy, to show the human hunger for life, so you would see how they would rot over time, how control and power stink.

I’ve noticed that Quechua, the clothing and camping equipment brand has created a new section: “Tarps and Shelters”, with 12 different shelter designs and 1 type of tent.

Being a refugee seems to be in fashion.

(Drawing is being exposed, changing, transforming. Participating in a “Discovery Channel” with no programming, a way of inhabiting worlds by creating them.
Shelter? That’s only for the people who believe that drawing is the use of a technique.)

And meanwhile, I’ll take a trip through the “mother culture”.

Does anybody have a legal Airbnb?




Part of the series #matteroffuck

urbanNext (April 17, 2024) Shelter as Bypass. Retrieved from
Shelter as Bypass.” urbanNext – April 17, 2024,
urbanNext January 3, 2017 Shelter as Bypass., viewed April 17, 2024,<>
urbanNext – Shelter as Bypass. [Internet]. [Accessed April 17, 2024]. Available from:
Shelter as Bypass.” urbanNext – Accessed April 17, 2024.
Shelter as Bypass.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: April 17, 2024]

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