UN peace missions operate today inside hundreds of cities across the world. Planned and engineered with the logic of security regimes, using single-purpose infrastructure, and dependent on extractive global supply chains, these ‘Islands of Blue’ generate a massive carbon footprint, profoundly impact local livelihoods, and leave mostly waste after decommissioning. Focusing on two missions and four cities in Liberia and Mali, BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions charts and uncovers spatial realities produced by the UN in mission areas. It traces the complex processes and mechanisms behind the conduct of missions and the various spatial tools and architectural technologies that make them possible. BLUE questions the international, spatial, and cultural structures we put in place to support communities across the world in times of crisis.
At the intersection of architecture, urban planning, international relations and activism, BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions seeks not only to change UN missions but also to open up and expand the operative realm of architecture. It combines research and projects involving policymakers, military engineers and officers, anthropologists, local inhabitants, activists, rebels, diplomats and ministers, architects and planners. BLUE offers examples of how entrenched institutional bureaucracies can be confronted by using more inclusive models of engagement, and it shows how designs rooted in local cultures and empowerment can address a history of violence.
The book is part of FAST’s ongoing activism, research, design, and advocacy work. It builds on earlier presentations, including the exhibition BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions for the Dutch Pavilion of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale.