MOST MIRA PEACE CENTRE
In 2012, Most Mira were asked to establish a permanent presence and decided to build a Peace Centre in Kevljani.
After years of preparation, we are have recently run a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to build the centre, and are continuing to raise funds from other sources, with foundations scheduled to be laid this year.
WHY A PEACE CENTRE?
The Most Mira Peace Centre, designed by young Bosnian and British architects, will be a space for young people of all backgrounds to work together on arts and peacebuilding projects. For us peacebuilding involves outstretching your hand to break the invisible barrier between communities, aiming to create a chain of events that lead to better understanding of the other. Our Centre will host residentials and events where Bosnian and international young adults can learn about how the war affected this region, post-conflict Bosnian politics, and peacebuilding. It will also be a space where children and young people can learn about the arts and develop their own performances.
The site of our Peace Centre is near where our founder Kemal, his brother Kasim and other Muslim men from the village of Kevljani were rounded up in 1992 before being taken to the Omarska concentration camp. Within the Prijedor region there were three concentration camps where men and women were detained, interrogated, tortured, raped, starved and killed. The violence which took place in the region during the 1990s conflict left a deeply divided community living in religiously-segregated areas, unable to re-establish old friendships or make new ones.
Whilst the majority of arts and peacebuilding organisations are based in cities, ours is based in a rural region where there are limited employment opportunities for young people and religiously divided schools. There are very few neutral youth organisations where young people from different backgrounds can meet.
Most Mira will transform the ruins of the first building in the village that was shelled into our Peace Centre using the environmentally sustainable method of rammed earth walls. Local children and community members were consulted during the design process, and young students of architecture from Bosniak, Bosnian-Serb and Bosnian-Croat backgrounds worked on the plans alongside their British peers. We have gained outline planning permission and are finalising the designs with renowned Austrian rammed earth construction specialists Lehm Ton Erde
HOW FAR HAVE WE GOT?
The concept design received outline planning permission in 2016, after which our team of architects and designers began working on the final design, with the hope of obtaining the permits and initiating the first phase of construction in Autumn 2018. The main phase, including the construction of rammed earth walls, will start once we obtain the necessary funds.
Key to our work has been having young Bosnian and British architects and students working alongside each other. The architectural design process mirrors the purpose of the Centre and becomes a holistic part of the charity’s own work and the reconciliation process in Prijedor.
WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE AND BE MADE OF?
The architectural design will transform a war-ruined private house on the site into a vibrant public destination for the arts and learning about peacebuilding. The site in Kevljani is a remnant of the last war, located seven kilometres away from the former Omarska concentration camp.
The building has been designed through a series of participatory workshops and educational residencies. This way, the building itself, as well as the design and construction process, will represent the process of transition towards reconciliation.
One part of the research during the project’s development included detailed mapping of existing pre-war industries in the local community, as well as natural resources and materials that could potentially be used for construction. The Most Mira team discovered that earth was one of the most common traditional building materials, which was used in various techniques and forms in Prijedor. This building technique therefore represents an important part of the cultural and architectural heritage in North West Bosnia, as well as in parts of neighbouring Croatia.
Rammed Earth technology combines the modern process of forming walls with the traditional earth material to reinvent forgotten traditional ways of building and turn them into something current and relevant in the contemporary context. The benefits of this method include low carbon emissions, low cost of raw materials and good thermal mass, while also celebrating an honest way of using earth as both structure and facade.