Pineapple Island at Papers
Location: Barbican Centre, London
Bold and energetic unaccompanied asylum seeking children re-imagine the Barbican Centre, inviting visitors into a world of their own creation.
As part of Papers, a festival of the art and architecture of the refugee crisis, a group of young asylum seeking children established a pop-up restaurant called Pineapple Island within the Barbican Conservatory, an establishment that turned the idea that the UK hosts asylum seekers on it’s head and instead provided a sanctuary in which young migrants played host to wider society.
Patrons were asked to bring a table dressing item that reminded them of home contributing to a semi-domestic feel of a family meal and prompting an environment of cultural exchange. Through this secure and safe space of their own making, the young people felt comfortable sharing their remarkable stories of resilience and hope. Bread and Roses, a social enterprise that’s been working with small groups of refugee women to improve their employability, curated the floral arrangement by delivering a number of floristry workshops in the run-up.
Kent is home to the majority of young unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees residing in the UK. Young migrants are encouraged to integrate, but language barriers and cultural differences make this hard. The Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) set up a school teaching unaccompanied migrants the skills necessary to access mainstream society and education.
Every day, the young people cook food from their respective countries, and the shared meals have become an integral part of the daily exchange between people of diverse backgrounds. In 2013 the pupils published “Let Me Cook for You: Recipes by young asylum seekers and refugees”. Inspired by this daily coastal routine, Pineapple Island at Papers, allowed the young people to welcome guests to dine with them and sample the fine cultural and culinary delights of distant lands.
Pineapple Island at Papers represents the second iteration of a new concept in education and play. Bound by a few key rules (that are there for breaking) which ensure it’s accessible, empowers its creators, and is at once immersive and aesthetic. It draws attention to the more ephemeral qualities of a space such as sound and smell. With the goal of promoting engagement through a shared common experience Pineapple Island breaks with, and thus playfully questions, the everyday by re-imagining an alternative.
JA Projects + (Sacha Ren, Nadine Coetzee, James Woodcook, Diddy Varley, Sarah Hagues, Ruth Osborne, Laura Jackson)
Kent Refugee Action Network, The Architecture Foundation, Bistrotheque, The Disappearing Dinning Club, Bisha Eritrean Restaurant, Robert Mull