Leros: Island of Exile

A Research project on architecture of security, displacement and control.

Beth Hughes
Platon Issaias
Yannis Drakoulidis / Photographer
Architecture, Archive, Collective Equipment, Exhibition, History, Infrastructure, Study, Theory

Leros: Island of Exile is an interdisciplinary research project started in early 2014 by Platon Issaias and Beth Hughes. The case of Leros in the Greek Dodecanese has a unique history of securitisation and control in the Mediterranean. It conveys an entire ecosystem of exile, detainment and violent processes of subjectification within which architecture plays a fundamental role.

Leros has been defined by its service under various regimes. This project focuses on the last century, from the Italian occupation of 1912-1943 up until today, covering a neglected example of the Italian Rationalist architecture, namely the plan of the town of Lakki/Portolago. The project follows the transformation of the infrastructure built by the Italian fascist administration, from notorious mental healthcare facilities to camps for political prisoners and violently displaced children from mainland Greece, and current use as detention centres for refugees and displaced individuals.

Displacement, confinement and bodily restriction and incarceration exist within an idealised colonial architecture that celebrated a mystified, fascist pan-Mediterraneanism. It’s a space and an exemplary landscape defined by water, geography and the south-eastern Mediterranean environment, and yet it performs a series of rather different functions. Multiple calculations at play put in place an Italian military apparatus and a set of relations between populations, landscapes, architectures and objects.

All photos by Yannis Drakoulidis. More on his work, here: http://yannisdrakoulidis.com/photographs/islands-of-exile-leros/

[Project Microsite]

The project has been exhibited in MANIFESTA 12 in Palermo (June-November 2018).

The following articles and conference papers emerged from this work: 

2019. Paper presentation in: Built to Last? Material Legacies of Italian Colonialism, organised by Instituto Storico Austriaco, Rome, 04-05 November 2019.

2019. Paper presentation in: Mediterranean Fascism(s), organised by University of Basel, Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Urban Studies, 04 October 2019.

2018. Article in: Movements: Journal for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies, vol. 4, issue 2/2018. [Link to the article]

2018. Article in: The Funambulist, v.19, Sept-Oct 2018. [Link to the article]


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.