KOTKT /work in progress

‘De Voorkamer’ (The Living Room) is a social initiative introducing a design method focussed on the creation of a new environment for asylum seekers and locals to meet. The project’s aim is to provide opportunities for asylum seekers to integrate in the local society. ‘De Voorkamer’ does so by encouraging asylum seekers to use their individual skills and talents to create and build ‘De Voorkamer’s space. The space is located in a central spot near a refugee center.

‘De Voorkamer’ is a platform that promotes the different personalities and talents of people living in a refugee center as a tool for communication with the local society. The participants are encouraged to use their specific skills to create personal objects that reflect their background, their fears and hopes. As the objects take shape, ‘De Voorkamer’ evolves into a living room. The team members furnish the room with self-made objects such as chairs, a table, a tablecloth, cushions, a magazine and a collection of carefully chosen houseplants. The team’s activities generate involvement, confidence and pride in their identity and origin. Together they form a communal space that promotes better relationships with their Dutch neighbors. Once the space is furnished, the team, as a collective, works towards a series of local events based on hospitality. The theme of the event focuses on the participant’s past and future, all in a positive way and from an assumption of equality between locals and refugees. With one-on-one encounters, the gatherings allow existing barriers to be dissolved. Finally, in this neutral yet personal environment, new relationships can grow.