Coral Frontiers: Towards a Post-Military Landscape- Architecture Project on Chagossian Return on Show Now

A 3D model of Diego Garcia, part Coral Frontiers project currently on show at RCA Battersea Campus

A 3D model of Diego Garcia, part Coral Frontiers project currently on show at RCA Battersea Campus

An exciting new architecture project centered around Chagossian return to their homeland can now be seen at the Battersea Campus of the Royal College of Art. As part of the university’s degree show, Rosa Rogina’s work Coral Frontiers: Towards a Post-Military Landscape can be seen between 25th June and 5th July, at Howie Street, London SW11 4AS.

A few months ago we reported on and went to an ‘in progress’ exhibition of the project, which Ms Rogina comments looks at “a possible shift in the balance of power” from the previously dominant colonial powers to the Chagossian people.

Having initially looked at how Chagossians were stripped of the most fundamental human rights by their forced exile, Rosa expanded her project to look at how infrastructure projects could have a positive social, environmental and economic benefit for resettled Chagossians.

Coral Frontiers: Towards a Post-Military Landscape imagines how integrating a resettled Chagossian society into the Coral Frontier programme, supported by UN Environmental Programme for biodiversity, could act as an “environmental healer” for Diego Garcia whilst providing skills and income for returned Chagossian exiles.

Roch Evenor with a mocked-up paper reporting Chagossian returning home

Roch Evenor with a mocked-up paper reporting Chagossian returning home

The military past of Diego Garcia is contrasted with a potential sustainable civilian future for Chagossians

The military past of Diego Garcia is contrasted with a potential sustainable civilian future for Chagossians

The project focuses on the potential for the a “progressive transition from a landscape dominated by an occupying army to one defined by a community of returning exiles.” Acknowledging that a continued military presence is likely at least in the short-term, Rosa is adamant that Chagossians themselves should define the new spatial configuration and architecture of their renewed society as exiles and their descendents reconnect with their homeland:

“I chose not to impose a design solution for the resettled community and leave to the Chagossians to decide how to inhabit the island. Instead, this project is a proposal for their first means of survival – the infrastructure that may sustain their resettlement,

The imagined scenario in 2036 as a successful Chagossian society replaces US military dominance of the islands

The imagined scenario in 2036 as a successful Chagossian society replaces US military dominance of the islands

One central aspect of the current exhibition looks at how coral regeneration in the lagoon of Diego Garcia, contrasting this environmentally-conscious civilian future with its role in recent years as a military hub (pictured above centre).

 

“Chagossians were not only exiled from their homeland, they have been continuously manipulated within the legal framework in order to never come back. For me, not to atone for the committed crime is often more monstrous than committing a crime in the first place.” Rosa Rogina on the recent history of the Chagossian people.

Creating the project took months of hard work and Rosa worked with a number of Chagossians, including Roch Evenor, former Chairperson of UK Chagos Support Association (pictured above right) and David J. Simon (right). As can be seen, an earlier part of the project involved Chagossians holding detailed mock-ups of a Guardian report on Chagossian return home and their renewed society’s progress.

As Rosa explained in her previous interview, her initial interest in the Chagossian story centered on just how “media plays a crucial role in the production of space.”

Speaking about her hopes for the project, Rosa adds that “I definitely hope I can help raise awareness of the cause. Even speculative architecture projects can be a very powerful tool. Resettlement of these islands is possible, its just a question of whether the people in power are willing to make it happen.”

You can see Rosa Rogina’s Coral Frontiers: Towards a Post-Military Landscape at the Battersea Camps of the Royal College of Art until 5th July (open every day 12-6PM with the exception of 3rd July).

 

 

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