In addressing the refugee crisis, the immediate assumption is the need to focus on how to accommodate such large numbers of people, and where: inside or outside the cities, in temporary camps or permanent housing, in existing buildings or newly purpose-built constructions. Other aspects on how to deal with the crisis are sometimes neglected: the relationship with existing communities, access to jobs and economic activity, or cultural integration.
D’Hooghe’s Immigrant Market in Belgium takes a parallel and just as relevant approach, an approach that is connected to the very nature of cities as places of production and the exchange of goods. It addresses the question of what immigrants are going to do rather than where they are going to live. At the same time, it addresses the issue of how to intervene in existing cities in Europe, cities that may well already have degraded areas.
D’Hooghe’s specific design contribution is the introduction of archetypical forms in prefabricated concrete elements, acknowledging that the cultural baggage of a building is just as important as its structural efficiency. This gives the building a civic character, transforming the market into an institution. It blends the functional aspects of efficient city renovation with the intangible of the cultural crossroads of massive migration.