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Einwanderungsland? Germany’s Asylum Dilemma in Policy and Design


Germany has experienced an unprecedented influx of refugees over the last years. In dealing with the so-called crisis, the management of settlement and housing of refugees is a crucial aspect. Germany’s asylum policy—torn between long-term versus short-term and permanent versus temporary approaches and solutions—has equally contradictory spatial implications. This article brings together policy with design. Through the analysis of an architectural project database featuring recent refugee housing projects across Germany and some of its neighboring countries, this paper explores design responses to the refugee influx. It shows that the refugee shelter design is equally torn and reflects the political inconsistency that is symptomatic of the wider context of Germany’s current asylum policy.

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Fig. 1


  1. German for “immigration country”—a controversial term in Germany that was previously reserved for countries traditionally receiving many immigrants, such as the USA. In Germany, the long-time prevailing designation of immigrants as gastarbeiter (guest workers) implied a temporary stay in Germany, even if the reality proved otherwise. The increasingly frequent labeling of Germany as einwanderungsland points to a widening general acceptance of migrants coming to stay in the country.


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Correspondence to Silvia Danielak.

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Danielak, S. Einwanderungsland? Germany’s Asylum Dilemma in Policy and Design. Int. Migration & Integration 20, 1–13 (2019).

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  • Asylum policy
  • Shelter
  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Germany