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syria - a tower for refugees
9th edition


Over the last 4 and a half years, more than 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the conflict taking place in the country between forces loyal to the president and the forces of opposition. Already considered the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time, the wave of Syrian refugees continues to grow. It is the largest exodus in recent history, more than 4.5 million Syrians have already left their country. Leaving beahind their homes and their belongings, they just bring the clothes they wear and little else. The neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey struggle to accommodate the wave of refugees that every day comes to their borders. Europe is now also preparing to start receiving the first refugees.



Located in the Middle East and also known as the Syrian Arab Republic, bordering Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Turkey. Its capital, Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited citys. This wave of refugees has increased significantly since 2003 when the living conditions deteriorated drastically. It is believed that half the population has been forced to leave their houses and the worst is that many of these people do not have access to aid. Thousands of women, men and children, have now an uncertain fate, without prospects of a future better life.



On this exercise we pretend to invert established concepts and ideas. Extend its limits to other realities once disregarded. A tower, a symbol of capitalism, only accessible for the elites. It pretends to elevate man to another level. Reach the sky and observe the world from above, in a top view, an omnipresent status, keep it in a prominent position and inaccessible. Why not think and design a tower for those that most need it? Does it make sense, in a time where cities and boundaries are thought, to minimize use land and impervious surfaces and so that way we have more organized cities and a greener planet ? So we intend to reverse this concept and modify the rules of the game. The combination of a tower to a social use, rather than purely economic interests and power!



1st Place

Team: Patryk Slusarski

City: Rotterdam 

Country: Netherlands

2nd Place

Team: Dominika Nikiel, Dagmara Romaniak, Anna Sienko

City: Bielsko-Biala 

Country: Poland

3rd Place

Team: Austeja judzentyte, William Mackey

City: Copenhagen 

Country: Denmark

Honorable Mentions
Honorable Mentions

Team: Giuseppe Carosini, Aleksandra Gojnic

City: Milano 

Country: Italy

Team: Luca Gilardoni, Bice Ghetti, Francesca Ripamonti, Matteo Lazzari, Stefano Pavia

City: Milano 

Country: Italy

Team: Anvar Garipov, Radmir Gelmutdinov, Alexandr Nuzhdin

City: Yekaterinburg 

Country: Russian Federation

Team: Filer Octavian, Istrate Andreea, Savu Bianca, Tutelca Sonia

City: Bragadiru

Country: Romania

Team: Javier Peláez, Elena Gámez

City: Alcorcón 

Country: Spain

Team: Eslam Sayed, Eslam Mashtooly, Tahseen Tahseen, Ahmed Sayed, Nadeem Mohamed

City: Dubai 

Country: United Arab Emirates

Team: Piotr Pasierbinski, Ewa Sroczynska

City: Krakow 

Country: Poland

1st PLACE - ID 0001180: Team: Patryk Slusarski; City: Rotterdam; Country: Netherlands

“Gate of Europe is a reasonable and rational decision allows to solve the refugee problem, really and operatively. It gives the opportunity to manufacture same types of modules for housing quickly on an industrial scale. The whole cycle is well thought out: the evacuation of refugees, their adaptation and integration into native society. The system is very flexible and scalable. It is easy to transform and reallocate if necessary. Depending on situation possible various configuration at different times. In the initial stage the modules can be assembled into a tower. The Tower is subject of this competition, it is ideal for the first stage, when refugees need to adapt and settle familiar for them society. But if refugees will remain to live in the tower, they will not have any incentive to assimilate and learn the language. The authors of this project have provided a solution to this problem. After adaptation modules can be distributed around the city for the integration of refugees into society. This will prevent the creation of closed from the outside world community, which is very important. Also, the authors have thought and post - conflict usage. It is very sensible and functional design.” Maria Malitskaya, arq.

“This proposal has everything that is required in a winner panel: Graphic design, idea, representation, organization and composition. The use of the containers is not a new idea but in this case it the best option to a real and fast action.” Rafael Gonzalez del Castillo, arq.

“Avoiding the fraught, “othering” monumentality of building a tower for refugees, the proposed modular and adaptable system is nimble enough to suit the shifting needs of refugees as they are progressively integrated into Dutch society, as well as when they are able to head back home.” Amelia Taylor, arq.

“A project characterized by rationality, efficiency and sustainability, in the sense that it is a deeply adaptable solution to the needs and enables a phased and rapid process of integration of refugees. Another of the strengths of this proposal lies in its mobility / flexibility and encouragement the professional integration of refugees by promoting the craft-based small businesses.” João Mesquita

“Holland is traditionally known for having 'houseboats', but also as a country of numerous strategies to conquest the sea.  This project unlike other readings of this territory passed, as in 'Vacant NL' from studio RAAAF, proposes a new island where it locates a berth mega-structure with basic care equipment for the integration of refugees, and a large parking space for barges of type ‘houseboat’.The ambitious project seeks to innovate in an anchor infrastructure and reinterpretation of a model for a houseboat, able to travel from the country of the Levant to the Netherland. We should assign to this gesture a truly positive and creative signal by the will to activate a market now considered saturated and luxurious due to the low number of moorings available for the existing houseboats, and it is only by having considered parking in height. Hopefully within each of these barges also travels the spirit of Willem Janszoon, so that each of the refugees transported has the ability to resist stoically misfortunes of the great voyages.” Tiago Mota, arq.

2nd PLACE - ID000450: Team: Dominika Nikiel, Dagmara Romaniak, Anna Sienko; City: Bielsko-Biala; Country: Poland

“In this design we are also seeing a prudent approach to the project of the tower for refugees. The authors deliberately strive to build an open society, not allowing the refugees to clam up and to be alienated, and the indigenous people to perceive them as outside formation. Housing of refugees is located outside the tower, the slope of the tower symbolizes direction to Syria. The project builds dialogue between native population and refugees, helping them to understand each other, encourages refugees to integrate into the existing society.” Maria Malitskaya, arq.

 “The building itself has 2 sides, on the first floor is a shared space when markets appear and the it raises a little tower for the rest of the uses. This combination deserves the 2nd place of the competition. Furthermore it has a special composition with drawings and photos that makes this panel very atractive.” Rafael Gonzalez del Castillo, arq.

“The relatively simple “side” slant elegantly distinguishes the structure within the cityscape, making it recognizable but not imposing. Devoting the entirety of the space to social and cultural programming, with residential facilities outsourced into the city, focuses on what the city can and must offer refugees, and prioritizes residential integration over one-size-fits-all social infrastructure.” Amelia Taylor, arq.

“A proposal that strives for concern the integration both of the structure in the urban area and the people in the hosting town itself, as through the way the different services are organised and disposed this proposal assumes itself facilitator of a rapprochement between the Syrian culture and the host culture. It is undoubtedly an efficient and original proposal on the way the structure is organised and, in particular, by the balance between functionality and aesthetic dimension of the project.” João Mesquita

“This is a very simple proposal. And simplicity can sometimes be misinterpreted. It is a very laconic project that seeks to assume an identity and own character in a vertical configuration building. The element of greatest interest is the ground floor foundation that aims to double the public space through a suspended square that is articulated with a commercial shopping environment that seeks inspiration in a traditional souq.” Tiago Mota, arq.

3rd PLACE - ID00090: Team: Austeja judzentyte, William Mackey; City: Copenhagen; Country: Denmark

“Uncommon, provocative and philosophical project, which is able to cause a violent reaction of society. The authors propose to finish the North spire of the Stephansdom Cathedral in Vienna, with placing the refugees centre in it. Instead of being isolated from refugees, the authors want to settle them in the heart of their city. In this decision they see the solution of the problem of refugees integration and completion the visage of the city. There are the contrast of historic and modern architecture, the combination of two cultures and the juxtaposition of two religions in one structure. All this is a vivid challenge to society and is reminiscent of a social experiment with unpredictable consequences. This project is very contradictory, but such projects as this must be shown, so they are able to draw attention to the acute problem of refugees.” Maria Malitskaya, arq.

“It is a simple no-risking proposal but it is very real and effective. Nowadays the use of churches is taking importance in our times to become a new point of meeting in others ways that not only for praying.”  Rafael Gonzalez del Castillo, arq.

“A strong statement project, this proposal doesn’t programmatically address refugees specifically, but offers a strong statement of integration through infrastructural grafting onto historic symbols of power and place.”  Amelia Taylor, arq.

“Probably the most original and provocative/disruptive proposal! Owner of a tremendous symbolic value and a valuable potential for social advocacy/education on the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and tolerance. It is also an example of urban integration and complement of the existing metropolis. Still, it is at the same time a risky project, since it would require a delicate preparatory work of community awareness to prevent a deepening of the associated prejudices and stereotypes of the religious differences.”  João Mesquita

“The cathedrals represent the headquarters of the power of Catholic religious architecture. And Stephansdome notes this fact with great expression. The proposal although it is somewhat naive proposes to receive in this architectural symbol, stemmed refugees from a country immersed in a deep and long-standing crisis of political values ​​and religious tensions.

Following the movement of St. Stephen, the original cathedral patron, the proposal seeks to also be fair, blind and exemplary, bringing together under the ‘same roof’ different faiths, and cultures ​​through an abstract architectural solution and something mimetic of the original project. The proposal reveals a transforming will and remarkable reinterpretation of the symbolic assets and culture heritage, particularly given the short time for their development.” Tiago Mota, arq.

To the competition:

“Exciting and urgent theme of this competition gave the opportunity for architects from over the world to ponder on the problem of refugees and to give the architectural answer. High level of designs, excellent presentation, the contrast of real, rational proposals and amazing utopian ideas, such as placing refugees in the aerostats floating above the city as the beautiful lights of hope or info-skyscraper consisting of help messages for refugees (accommodation, food, etc.). We saw a lot of views, and most importantly - got real answers to assigned task. It was the 9th edition of 24H competition. I thank the organizers for inviting me as a jury member and all the participants for their work. It was a very interesting experience.“ Maria Malitskaya, arq.

“This competition was a tremendous challenge on the extent that the problem in question was more related with humanitarian concerns and less with architectural preoccupations. The coexistence of aesthetic concerns and of urban proportionality with social issues of integration and simultaneous protection of both cultures (refugees and hosting) is a Balancing very difficult and challenging to achieve. Despite this tremendous complexity, there were several good proposals and, overall, it was a very motivating and intellectually generous exercise to do.” João Mesquita

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