Profiling Exchange with Built Environment Professionals to Inform Integration Planning in Thessaloniki, Greece - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service

Profiling Exchange with Built Environment Professionals to Inform Integration Planning in Thessaloniki, Greece

Related Topics: Capacity development, Urban

Recognising that different types of actors are needed for holistic responses to displacement in cities, JIPS is exploring new partnerships to better understand how these many actors can work together to collect information and jointly use results. More specifically, as Håvard Breivik and Tone Selmer-Olsen describe in the interview, given that solutions to urban displacement necessarily includes understanding the needs of both displaced and host communities, as well as the urban areas affected, it is important to bring together area-analysis tools used by build environment professionals and collaborative profiling methodologies promoted by JIPS.

In order to bring these different worlds together, and as part of a rich learning exchange, our colleagues Margharita Lundkvist-Houndoumadi and Melissa Weihmayer delivered a 2-day workshop for the students of the In Transit Studio, a Master’s course in Architecture and Urbanism at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. The workshop focused on methodologies for profiling displacement situations and compared these with the urban profiling approach that generally feeds into the design of urban planning interventions. On both a theoretical and practical level, we explored what could be learnt from each other on urban analysis and collaborative profiling, and how to get the best out of both approaches. In a short interview, the two architects responsible for the project explain the value of this approach for the students, who will soon go to Thessaloniki to put what they’ve learned into practice.

Urban integration and profiling

The original idea of connection between JIPS and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design came from the Global Alliance on Urban Crises (GAUC), with the aim of exploring new approaches to finding and informing durable solutions to urban displacement that could benefit the wider urban community. Specifically, the In Transit project aims to provide new approaches to deal with urbanisation trends. It seeks to integrate built environment and urban studies approaches within humanitarian and development responses in order to create safe, sustainable and dignified living conditions for IDPs, refugees and host communities.

During our workshop, we discussed the importance of understanding different methodologies and their limitations when using data to inform interventions. Asking what kind of information both groups – built environment professionals (the term used to generally encapsulate urban planners, architects and some civil engineers) and humanitarian partners – generally need for displacement response and urban planning solutions is a critical step in this direction.


Case study: Thessaloniki, Greece

Secondly, we turned to the specific case of Thessaloniki, Greece, and shared results from the profiling exercise there (currently in its final stages). In addition to resulting analysis, we also discussed the collaborative process behind it.

The Studio will be working with the profiling partners in Thessaloniki – especially the multi-stakeholder Urban Working Group – through a study trip and for the remainder of their semester. Students will, in fact, be working on detailed urban planning solutions to support local integration of refugees, tailored to the needs of both the refugee and asylum-seeking communities as well as those of the local populations. While in Thessaloniki the students will have an opportunity not only to discuss the results with the profiling partners, who currently are reviewing the final profiling report, but also visit sites around the city to better understand the situation on the ground.


Bringing two different worlds together

The workshop gave us the opportunity to get the perspective of built environment professionals on profiling: how can profiling results be useful to their work and response planning? In what ways might it need to be complemented by other data collection methods and data sources to provide the full picture that they need?

To better understand this, we had a chat with Håvard Breivik and Tone Selmer-Olsen, the two architects and NORCAP roster members – with many years of experience in architectural practice and crisis response between them – who set up and run the In Transit Studio. Håvard also leads the secretariat of the Global Alliance for Urban Crises.

Have a listen to learn more about the In Transit project, the fascinating and productive exchange during the workshop, and what the plans are to support long-term solutions for the displacement situation in Thessaloniki. Stay tuned for examples of the proposals developed by the students to support the urban displacement response in Thessaloniki.


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