At the height of the refugee crisis in late 2015, hangars of the former Berlin’s Tempelhof airport became a refugee housing center as a temporary answer to the emergency situation back then.
In February 2017 began the construction of a container village further afield on the grounds of the former airport to provide accommodation for about 1000 persons. The containers called Tempohomes should only be in use until 2019, as the Tempelhof law does not permit permanent development.
The hangars, housing 150 refugees at the end of 2017 according to the State Office for Refugee Affairs (LAF), would then be emptied. The first residents should have moved in the Tempohomes in December 2017.
Over the past months, I photographed the Container Village as it was going under construction. I could not access inside the camp. All surrounded by fences, the village felt like a locked-up space under surveillance located in one of the biggest leisure park of Berlin – almost isolated. I perceived these fences and gates as a symbol of the barriers between our communities, as a separation.
I decided not to ask for an access permission to enter the Container Village while it was being built. I reached what I could reach, I saw what I was allowed to see, just like any inhabitant of the district.
I could only sneak my analog camera through the fences.
The series is a quiet exploration of the refugees‘ future living space, of these plain white neutral identical containers, yet devoid of any signs of identity or culture.
In April 2017, the residents of the airport hangars who are currently being relocated in the Containers village wrote a petition together with Give Something Back To Berlin platform (GSBTB), in order to express their concerns about the container village. This petition was addressed to the authorities and organisations in charge of the project.
All following texts alongside the photographs of this series are extracts of this petition. The full text can be found on the website of Give Something Back To Berlin platform.
We, the residents of Hangar 2, Tempelhof NUK, who are soon to be relocated to the Container Village on Tempelhofer Feld, over which we believe you have some power and influence, kindly ask you to note the following concerns and recommendations, and to act on them as soon as possible as these are the implementations of basic human rights rather than luxuries.
1. That our families living across Berlin and Germany can be reunited in the Container Village. […] as it can greatly help with loneliness and detachment from family, heritage and culture.
2. That there will be just one family in each Tempohome.
4. That we be able to receive visitors and guests (also overnight), which could be family members or friends without any limitations imposed. […]
8. That the move occurs before Ramadan, as this would allow us to cook our own food and celebrate in a more comfortable communal setting for the first time in two years.
9. That elderly and infirm people be accommodated as close to the gate as possible. […]
11. That the Container Village includes a safe space exclusively for women and girls
12. That there be a gate allowing direct access to the park. […]
14. That residents be offered employment or work experience in the Container Village when possible, e.g. cleaning, maintenance, security, childcare, building and construction.
15. That there be no stickers, signs etc. instructing on how to use toilets or any other signs which humiliate us by suggesting inferiority and a lack of basic education, manners and/or understanding of culture.
16. That there be high-speed wireless internet connection available to ensure our access to information, platforms fostering learning and the search for jobs, apartments, entertainment and, above all, contact with our relatives. […]
19. That no further investments be made that would turn the temporary homes into a long-term housing solution.
20. That the Container Village will be closed no later than the end of 2019 as has been promised, and that every effort will be made to help us find proper accommodation by that time.