Place-Making in a Foreign Culture: Comparing the Syrian Refugee Quarters in Athens and Izmir

Authors: ASLI ONER*, Izmir University of Economics, Athanasios Stasinopoulos, İzmir University of Economics Department of Architecture, Konstantinos Moraitis, National Technical University of Athens Department of Architecture, Bahar Durmaz-Drinkwater, İzmir University of Economics Department of Architecture
Topics: Cultural Geography, Migration, Urban Geography
Keywords: Refugees, place-making, Syrian conflict, Basmane, Votanikos
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Studio 4, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Internal conflict in Syria has created one of the most drastic refugee crises in history. According to the United Nations, with 3 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has been the most important destination. In addition, around 1 million people have crossed the Aegean from Turkey to Greece. Thus, Turkish and Greek cities along the coast have been major hubs for refugees as gateways to Europe. After the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, this massive migration has slowed down, turning “transient refugees” into “new residents” in gateway cities like Izmir and Athens.
In short time, refugees had to adapt to the conditions of the cities they stayed in. They started working, establishing homes, maintaining their family ties, and building up their communities both socially and physically in a foreign culture. This “place making” effort of refugees have been studied in literature in different geographic contexts (Sampson 2010; Hoffstaedter 2013; Ward-Lambert 2014).
In this paper, our aim is to contribute to this literature with a comparative study of the place-making efforts of Syrian refugees in two contexts: Votanikos in Athens and Basmane in Izmir. We will critically examine the quality of the built environment and public spaces in these two areas before and after the refugee crisis and assistance/help provided by the residents, NGOs and city administrators to refugees. By taking a comparative approach, we wish to initiate a dialogue in terms of developing more sustainable approaches in dealing with refugee crisis in the city scale.

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