Architecture and Activism: Chagossian Campaign Event

For those of you not lucky enough to make it the recent Architecture and Activism at the Royal College of the Arts, we thought we’d put together a brief summary.

The event itself was a ‘progress show,’ in which the architects involved explained their projects and opened a discussion about their work. The final version of the projects, including Rosa Rogina’s ‘Right to Abode’ piece on the Chagossian struggle to return home, are scheduled to be completed this summer.

Models of certain elements of a returned Chagossian settlement will be created as part of the final project. The central feature at this exhibition, however,

Roch Evenor at the Architecture & Activism Event in Kensignton's Royal College of the Arts

Roch Evenor at the Architecture & Activism Event in Kensignton’s Royal College of the Arts

was the mocked up Guardian report of Chagossians’ winning their right to return home (pictured right)-a headline we hope to see for real in the near future.

Prior to the event Roch Evenor, former UK Chagos Support Association Chair and native of Peros Banhos, met with Ms Rogina to discuss the project. The inset picture of Mr Evenor with the mocked up paper was also taken at this meeting.

The event itself included speeches and discussions about the campaign to win justice for Chagossians and the challenges it faced. For a large number of attendees, it was the first time they had heard about the suffering and exile of the Chagossian people, and their shock and horror was clear to see. People from a variety of backgrounds found themselves able to relate to terrible injustices meted out to Chagossians.

Commenting on the event, Ms Rogina said that “I am very happy that there was a great interest shown not only from Chagossian community and the campaigners but as well from people who are not directly involved in the ‘Return 2015 Campaign’. I’ve got the impression that some potentially very interesting connections emerged from the event.”

Expanding on her plans for the project going forward, Ms Rogina added that

Now it is time to implement everything researched and discussed in the actual design proposal. Although it is a speculative project without a real commission, the idea is to use this opportunity and as a final product deliver a tangible proposal that would be later of use for the Chagossian community and ‘Return 2015 Campaign’ itself. The design process will be based on the community involvement through informal consultations and conversations about how one envisions the resettlement. It is crucial to involve possible final users through all the stages of the design and I must say I am very lucky there seems to be an interest within the Chagossian community to engage.”

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