Refugees Pavilion

at London Design Biennale 2018


The Refugees' Pavilion named in

TOP 10 installations at London Design Biennale 2018


“For the first time, the biennale includes a space to represent refugees, which is housed within the framework IKEA Foundation’s Better Shelter, a structure that can be assembled by four people in just a few hours from the contents of two cardboard boxes.

The shelter contains a collection of objects made by refugees, and throws light on the fact that although the housing in refugee camps is necessarily temporary, the camps themselves are often anything but."

We were invited to the New York Times panel discussing ‘the power of design in public policy and international relations’.

The Refugees’ Pavilion has also been featured in:

One of the highlights of the Biennale in our debut year…

In Monocle, Dr Christopher Turner, the Artistic Director of the London Design Biennale, cites the Refugee Pavilion as a prime example of how the exhibition achieves its aim.

“It acknowledges the unrepresented, showcasing some of the designs made within migrant camps” he explains.

Refugees’ Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2018







We spoke to female leaders at the Biennale.
Here are their stories.

Madina Scacchi

Somali Architecture

Madina Scacchi, is a Somali-Italian architect based in Rome and part of the team behind Somali Architecture.

The Somali Architecture project began in 2015 and it was founded by Yusuf Shegow. It began as a platform to share historical pictures of the city of Mogadishu and all of Somalia.

It started mainly through the platform Instagram and little by little, Yusuf made the website and the 3D models.

What remains when the war ends? Ruins preserve histories that are often forgotten. In the face of conflict and destruction, ruins are proof that there was something before the wreckage, and before the painful emotions that they evoke.

Not all ruins are the same; some buildings remain standing despite attempts to turn them into rubble. They are manifestations of people’s indestructible hope, resilience and survival. Somalia’s exhibition traces the history of Somali architecture before and after the civil war, from its pre-colonial heritage to its manifestations under British and Italian rule, through to the post-independence socialist modernism of the late 20th century.

The exhibit reflected on the impact of the civil war on this architectural heritage. Visitors were guided through images and video projection that follow the devastation which not only transformed the physical landscape of the country but also carried with it unimaginable human costs. The main installation features 3D models of Mogadishu’s most iconic buildings and monuments.

As the capital city, Mogadishu is emblematic of both the architectural styles and the political struggles of the whole country.

Visitors were immersed in a 360-degree experience showing how the country has radically changed in the last 30 years, and suggesting how what remains could act as the foundation for future reconstruction.

The remnants of the past bear witness to people’s hope that Somalia will return to the vibrant country it once was.


Curator: Somali Architecture

Design team: Yusuf Shegow, Madina Scacchi, Iman Mohamed, Ahmed Mussa.

Filming: RiyoFilms

Supporting bodies: Premier Bank, Deeqa Construction and Water Well Drilling Co., Benadir Regional Administration, Adjaye Associates, National Enterprise, East Africa General Trading Ltd.

Nassia Inglessis

Studio INI

An interview with Nassia Inglessis of Studio INI, Designer of ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ (Disobedience) at London Design Biennale 2018, with insights into her process, the thinking behind the installation, and some of her other work.

The concept of ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ (pron. anipakoi) has been used throughout history to describe the Greek temperament, with explorations of disobedience dating back to Ancient Greece and its internationally influential mythology.

From the cautionary tales of Ikaros and Antigone, to Prometheus, a hero who feels a moral obligation to disobey the gods in order to create opportunities for human progress. Greece’s design explores this duality in the nature of disobedience. How can we design to evoke disobedience yet harness its constructive and creative form?

In the spirit of disobedience, Greece’s kinetic installation changes our interactions with the physical environment, challenging a perception of architecture as something static, or emotionally inert. It encourages visitors to imagine a world in which buildings, boundaries and walkways morph and adapt in response to human intent, shedding light on a potential future for cities.

ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ is comprised of a 17 metre-long wall constructed from a steel spring skeleton built up with recycled plastic which flexes, morphs and breathes around the human body. Visitors can transgress through this mechanical boundary, and as they tread, experience the skin of the wall transforming in response.

The public are invited to participate in a mood of creative disobedience by transitioning from an obedient spectator to a disobedient actor, physically passing through (or ‘in between’) the wall along an undulating walkway.

Emotions such as curiosity, ambivalence, frustration, temptation, excitement and wonder are amplified, as visitors experience the feeling of passing in between a boundary and uniquely impacting its shape.


Designed, engineered and curated by: Studio INI led by Nassia Inglessis, Lead Designer and Engineer with team E. Brial, M. Vordonarakis, L. Walker, N. L’Huillier, A. Yioti and with Neiheiser Argyros, C. Hornzee-Jones, Elliott Wood Partnership Ltd.

With thanks to: G. Piscitelli, J. Bertolaso, S. Roots, F. Avgerinos, A. Lavail.

With thanks for their fundraising efforts to: A. Kyriakopoulou, G. Kekatos, L. Modiano, D. Spiegelberg.

Primary sponsor: Eurobank Private Bank Luxembourg.

Other sponsors: Yiotis S.A., U. Kyriakopoulos, TERNA S.A., NEON, Martinos Art, Leventis Foundation, King’s College London, VETA S.A, E. Tsangrides, F. Kyriacopoulos, Plomari Ouzo S.A., SmilePlastics.

Alisa Roadcup


An interview Alisa Roadcup, Executive Director of RefuSHE at the Refugees’ Pavilion, London Design Biennale 2018.

RefuSHE is an organisation that provides healing, education, and empowerment for young refugee women and their children living in Nairobi, Kenya.

Their award-winning holistic model provides short and long-term support through opportunities for refugee girls to access their human rights, experience economic success and skill development, and become leaders in their own communities.

Märta Terne

Better Shelter

An interview with Märta Terne, Head of Communications at Better Shelter. Better Shelter were a key partner in the Refugees’ Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2018.

Better Shelter is a social enterprise driven by a mission to improve the lives of persons displaced by armed conflicts and natural disasters.

They aim to be the leader in emergency and temporary shelter innovation, and continuously develop their products together with their partners, customers and, most importantly, the people who live in their shelters.

They strive to create a safer, more dignified home away from home for millions of displaced persons across the world through innovation. With and for refugees.

Better Shelter were a part of Nairobi Design Week 2018, as well as the Refugees Pavilion at LDB18.

Project Credits

Administered & Designed by: Nairobi Design Week

Supporting Bodies: Better Shelter Foundation, RefuSHE, Sandstorm Kenya, IKEA Foundation, Yara Said (Salwa Foundation), Vidan Lawnes