Architect and photographer Gili Merin reviews “Blue” (Actar, 2022) on Malkit Shoshan’s 15-year-long research on the architecture of the UN Peacekeeping Missions.
It is rare to find an architectural representation that is as clear, radical and thoughtfully made as the project itself. Such is Blue by Malkit Shoshan, an ambitious volume that outlines her 15-year-long research into the architecture of the UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world. It investigates how these United Nations Missions – which take the form of large-scale camps – should be studied for their spatial footprint, use of resources and architectural form in order to prevent the depletion of the communities which they are meant to serve. Observing dozens of sites across the Middle East, Southern Europe and Africa, Shoshan argues that the architecture of these camps needs to be completely rethought not only in terms of its deployment but also in terms of its closure at the end of a mission: in a radical move, she suggests that these expensive islands of equipment and infrastructure should not be deconstructed, trashed into a landfill, or in a good case, packed and sent back to Europe; perhaps, careful planning of their initial layout, technology and typology would mean that after the mission had run its course, the perimeter walls could be lifted and the camp could (eventually) dissolve into the local fabric and serve the local community. Like the Roman camps that have now become Paris and London, Shoshan asks – perhaps the cities of the future are the UN bases of today?