The Migrants’ Caravanserai 
Refuge itinérant 
Fondation des amis de Médecins de Monde  -  2016
En partenariat avec l’Atelier Jean Maleyrat

During the first year of the European migrant crisis, acknowledging that shutting down borders will not prevent migrants to take huge risks to try to reach Western Europe, the MEDECINS DU MONDE FOUNDATION asked for some architectural answers that could have an impact, not on the problem itself but on one of its direct consequences: the loss of thousands of lives on the migration routes.


The Migrant’s Caravanserai project’s development is built around the concept of “hot spots“ for points of refuge in a self-organized flow of migration. In the way that groups or families compose the main migrant flow, we decided to design small scaled, versatile and easily movable shelter able to accommodate a group up to 10 persons. Depending of the need, several refuges can be placed in the same area. However, aiming to organize a regional migration flow (the migrants are presumably not travelling alone but most likely in relatively large groups), this project is created by a network of living lighthouses able to communicate between each other via light signals for the ones disposed in an area within sight (showing a green light if there are places available and a red one if it’s full) and Internet to link all the lighthouses, permitting the migrants to prepare their journey through the caravanserai network. We witnessed during the last year that depending of each crossed country’s politics, the migrants’ route can change every week. Taking this parameter in consideration, the caravanserai has to be easily and quickly built and dismantled. We chose a design permitting to each shelter to be carried by a truck in its integrality. These trucks will be the direct link to the next hot spot, allowing the caravanserai to be in permanent contact with the migrant’s journey. (Even if the “hot spots” are first based on the main mortality centers, they will also be chosen accordingly to the countries politics: if a migration road is closed, the migrants will have to find an other safe way, probably through an other country…

The Caravanserai includes a lighthouse and a refuge (a covered living space), containing a public space on the bottom floor and a living space on the first floor. The ground level proposes an area of 25 m2 and a covered circulation around it measuring one meter wide. This public space includes a gathering space (table and benches), a fireplace, a water point and shower facilities. The first floor includes an infirmary, a WIFI access (for Wireless Internet connections and electricity providing), and an open space that is able to adapt to every moment of the day thanks to mobile curtains, allowing to create private and open spaces in function of the migrant’s need. Every element chosen in the composition of the shelter can be easily assembled or disassembled during a day. The choice of using cheap materials is meant to reduce the cost of the shelter, in a way to multiply it subsequently. We are taking position on thinking that there is no need to materialize each “hot spot” once the caravanserai will be left: these areas will stay places of remembrance by themselves. The real goal is not on attracting more attention on it, but on the reduction of these mortal areas (and consequently of the caravanserais) with the time.