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In Malmo, Sweden, a new building will serve as a place for local residents to meet refugees–and potentially give them work.
At the height of the European refugee crisis in 2015, as many as 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers arrived in the city of Malmo, Sweden, every day. And while many were sent elsewhere in the country–from small towns to temporary housing at a Wild West theme park–others stayed, and many of them (along with even newer arrivals) are still struggling to find work.
This summer, the city will experiment with a new way to help refugees find jobs: a pop-up pavilion in a city park where refugees can get training, connect with local nonprofits, and, most importantly, network with native-born Swedes.
“We call it a marketplace of ideas, information, and connection,” says Rik Ekstrom, principal at the New York-based design studio ARExA, who collaborated with designers Gustav Fagerström, Milad Barosen, and Nathan King on the winning design for the pavilion, which was created for a Van Alen Institute competition called Opportunity Space, that asked designers to create a concept for an “Opportunity Festival” to be held in August at the park.
During the day, the pavilion will host workshops, art shows and music performances, discussions, and employment services and will serve as a meeting place. At night, the structure transforms, bending up to turn into a beacon of light. Because the offerings go beyond simple job placement, the goal is to draw in as many Malmo residents as possible. Refugees will have the opportunity to meet long-term residents who they otherwise might not encounter while living in somewhat segregated immigrant neighborhoods.
[The pavilion] is really focused on building relationships, and the social infrastructure that will allow people to come into this society and be productive,” Ekstrom says. “Work is the great divider–the people who have work are enfranchised, they’re part of the system, part of society, and people who don’t have work feel very much separate.”