Architects: SHOVK | Andrii Leso, Ruslan Lytvynenko, Igor Nakonechnyi  

Total land area: 27 000 sq. m 

Building area: 21 000 sq. m 

Location: Como, Italy  

Project year: 2017 

Since Switzerland closed the borders for refugees in July 2016, thousands of displaced people were stuck in Como, Italy, with no place to sleep. To cope with this spontaneous problem, the Como refugee social center project was started. 


The project site is a part of the abandoned railway of Como San Giovanni station. It is situated very close to Como lake, the city center, and all public institutions. Many refugees arrive in Como by train, hence having a refugee center close to the station is very convenient. Moreover, the location with railway paths on the one side and relief drop on the other side creates natural borders, which protect refugees and frees us from the need to build any fences. 


Refugee center has two parts:   
– housing and service buildings on the 1st floor;
– the safety and separated zone for hosting refugees.  Open for all citizens multifunctional spaces in the basement: conceptual spaces, exhibition, museum halls, and meeting rooms. It is a place where refugees and locals interact and get used to each other.  

Overall the social center proposes the following functions:
– Living units;
– Polyclinic and first-aid point;
– Canteen;
– Communication space;
– Spaces for education and work activities;
– Leisure areas;
– Sport playgrounds;
– Cinema.


To provide refugees with living spaces in the future for sure, a flexible structure of the refugee center needs to be projected. That is why we chose the site which could be extended up to 30 000 sq. m if needed.   

Once refugees receive an official status they could still be not ready to integrate into the new society. Thus having social housing in front of the refugee center may solve the problem of adaptation. We propose an 8×8 m grid-based design, where each unit could be easily transformed and the composition of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments could be changed anytime in response to the requirements.