Book Chapter

Displaced, in Place, and in Transit

Full title: “Displaced, in Place and in Transit: Refugee Population in Greece and the Formation of Planning Protocols and Domestic Machines.” Book chapter in: Transient Spaces: Building Shelter in Crisis Contexts. New York: The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, The City College of New York. Platon Issaias and Theodossis Issaias.

Platon Issaias
Theodossis Issaias
Agency, Architecture, Development model, Domesticity, History, Housing, Movements, Planning, Theory, Typology

Violating the provisions of the Versailles (1919) and Sèvres (1920) Treaties that gave regional autonomy and partitioned the collapsing Ottoman Empire expanding European colonial rule towards the east Mediterranean, the Greek Army invaded Ottoman cities of the east Aegean coast and East Thrace, declaring them de facto parts of Greek sovereignty. Greek military forces under the leadership of disillusioned nationalist politicians fuelled by racist ideologies campaigned further to the east, before being forcefully attacked and overwhelmingly defeated by the organized militia of the Turkish National Front. The Greek-Turkish War lasted until October 1922 with massive military and civilian casualties, resulting in about 2 million displaced individuals from both sides. In the few months between September 1922 and January 1923, mainland Greece received 1,2 million refugees, mostly Greek speaking, orthodox Christian subjects of the collapsing Ottoman Empire. The Lausanne Treaty (Jan 1923) signed between the two countries suspended the right to return for all displaced and de-naturalised individuals, declaring them re-naturalized citizens of their – unknown and unfamiliar – “motherlands”. This is how the history of modern town planning in Greece begins: as a response to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis provoked in cities, towns, and rural areas with the arrival of the refugee population. The planning of settlements, the building of domestic units, the re-distribution of agricultural land abandoned by its original Greek-speaking Muslim owners, necessitated the organization of complex bureaucratic procedures, all administered by the Refugee Settlement Committee, a humanitarian agency initiated and supervised by the League of Nations. An uprooted population, registered, classified, divided according to profession and class organized and domesticated in place, through a system of property liquidation and exchange of re-territorialised lost capital and estimated property values.

The essay has the ambition to critically compare the 1920s experience and struggles with the current refugee crisis and its effects in Greece, its cities and its in place, in transit and displaced population. The deployment of contemporary machines of international humanitarian aid – mainly detention and processing centres, or so-called hospitality centres, i.e. militarized camps – coexists with activist interventions: squatting of abandoned properties, open facilities, and a network of solidarity and care. How do contemporary conflicts intervene within various asymmetries and power relations? What kind of architecture, knowledge and practice of city design could emerge from this new reality? How to confront state or international bureaucracy and violence through alternative spatial platforms?

[link to the book]


Fatura Collaborative – Research & Design Practice, was founded in 2009 and is developing projects across a wide range of scales, from intimate objects and performance, to architecture, urban design and planning. We are interested in architecture as social infrastructure, in developing collective equipments, in the design of spaces of care, empathy and welfare. We design and research expanding new problematics about ecology, the domestic, everyday life and the city.



is an architect and researcher based in London. She studied architecture in Patras, Greece, and currently is a PhD candidate at the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art in London. Her research focuses on the intersections between social movements and the state apparatus, and centers around the ad-hoc infrastructures created for welfare provision during periods of crisis. She has practiced architecture in the UK and worked in the housing, healthcare, and education sectors in collaboration with public authorities and established architectural practices. Prior to London, Elisavet gained experience as an architect in Athens and Madrid.


is an architect, researcher, and educator. He studied architecture in Thessaloniki, Greece, and holds an MSc from Columbia University and a PhD from TU Delft and The City as a Project research collective. He is the director of Projective Cities MPhil programme at the Architectural Association, where he is also teaching Diploma Unit 7 with Hamed Khosravi. Previously, he has taught at the Berlage Institute (Netherlands), in the MArch Urban Design programme at the Bartlett, the RCA, Syracuse University and the University of Cyprus. His research interests explore urban design and architecture in the relation to the politics of labour, economy, law and labour struggles. He has written and lectured extensively about Greek urbanisation and the politics of urban development.


is an architect and educator, and recently joined the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art as Associate Curator. He earned his diploma of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and an SMarchS degree from MIT. Since 2009, he has been practicing as a founding member of Fatura Collaborative, an architecture and research collective. His PhD dissertation, “Architectures of the Humanitarian Front” (Yale University), explores the nexus of humanitarian organizations and architecture and their relation to conflict, displacement and the provision of shelter.


is an architect based in Lund, Sweden. He graduated in 2010 from the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens and holds an MSc in Energy Efficient and Environmental Building Design from the School of Architecture of Lund University (2015). He has practiced architecture as a freelance architect in Greece and currently in Sweden (eg. Tengbom architects), where he works on a wide range of projects including small houses, larger residential complexes as well as care, educational and industrial facilities.


graduated in 2007 from the School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds the MSc in Advanced Architectural Design from GSAPP, Columbia University (2008). In June 2016, she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the Architectural Association. Her thesis dealt with the transition towards abstraction in art and architecture during the end of 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on interwar architectural modernism in Germany. Alexandra has been teaching at the AA since 2012, where she is currently a studio master in the First Year Studio of the Experimental Programme and a Programme Coordinator and Course tutor in the MArch Architecture & Urbanism (DRL) programme. She has practiced as an architect in New York and Athens.