Unacompanied Minor Refugees


Jasmin Leonard

My work records the spaces that a minor unaccompanied refugee passes on his journey from his homeland to her/his uncertain destiny. It describes stations of fear, despair, hope and finally the arrival to the Austrian asylum system. When arriving in Austria and after being accepted into the asylum procedures, every refugee is provided a place to stay as part of his/her "Grundversorgung" (basic support). While the journey doesn’t end here, all refugees loose the option to choose where they want to go or stay once she/he enters the asylum system. But at this point, years of waiting for approval and insecurity are lying ahead.

Homes for asylum seekers are rarely erected from scratch. Instead empty spaces are adapted and used as temporary homes. In the village Neudörfl in Burgenland I found a 17th century castle that had recently been adapted as a home for 35 unaccompanied minor refugees. The facade was renovated extensively and the rooms were spacious and clean. But I noticed the house, at the periphery of the village, offered very little common spaces to its inhabitants. In addition, the castle is lies rather isolated at the border of the village and is not well connected to public infrastructures. The inhabitants of the castle have to take a bus to school and have to ask for permission to visit another federal state within Austria.

 

Unacompanied Minor Refugees


Jasmin Leonard

The questions I raise in my work are: What kind of spaces could this building offer to the refugees? How can their temporary home offer the possibility to be in contact with the inhabitants of the village? What could they be doing instead of waiting? Could some of their activiites in the refugee home connect with their personal background, memories, or talents? How could they overcome the gap between school and professional training? The castle developed from an important regional meeting point into a housing complex for people from all over the world, while gradually loosing the connection to the village. With this project I want to create a memorable station in the life of the refugees, as well as in the life and the world of the house itself.

Advisors: Bernd Vlay