Architecture Alumna Exhibits Live Jacket in Greece

drawing of a geometric-shaped canopy sheltering people on sandy soil
Rendering of Live Jacket used as social pods and resting units.
two large piles of abandoned life jackets on barren ground near the shore
Abandoned refugee life jackets near an arrival point in Lesvos in 2016. photo / provided
a drawing of two human figures on winged blankets
Unfolded Live Jacket with technology components.
two men wearing loose, white jackets over their clothing
Live Jacket prototype.
Rendering of Live Jacket used as social pods and resting units. Abandoned refugee life jackets near an arrival point in Lesvos in 2016. photo / provided Unfolded Live Jacket with technology components. Live Jacket prototype.
May 13, 2019

Architecture alumna Laura-India Garinois (B.Arch. '17) was selected to exhibit her undergraduate thesis project, Live Jacket, among the exhibitions, workshops, presentations, tours, and competitions of the inaugural Thessaloniki Design Week, May 5–12 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Using recycled material from abandoned life jackets, Live Jacket transforms from a life jacket to a regular jacket, a sleeping bag, or a blanket, and can be connected to other jackets to form various architectural forms. Technology embedded into the garment turns the jacket into an autonomous Wi-Fi shelter, electricity hub, and habitation node.

Garinois, who is half Greek and half French, says her inspiration for the project came from a visit to refugee camps in Lesvos before her thesis semester began. It was only after speaking with refugees that she understood the crucial role of technology in their lives and decided to focus on the lack of electricity and Wi-Fi access that refugees face in camps. Her thesis advisors were Associate Professor Caroline O'Donnell, the Edgar A. Tafel Professor of Architecture; and Assistant Professor Sasa Zivkovic.

In January, Garinois answered an open call for proposals relevant to the design week's theme, "Re-Creation," which aimed to "express the dynamics that our society needs to develop in order to meet the challenges, the opportunities, and the possibilities of the new era." Live Jacket was exhibited under the subtheme "Re-Generating the space," held in MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts in the port of Thessaloniki.

In addition to exhibiting, Garinois was interviewed by APE, Greece's largest news and media agency. The interview was published on World Refugee Day, June 20.

"I was excited to share more about the in-depth research and fieldwork that generated the design of the Live Jacket," said Garinois. "I'm also curious to investigate the feasibility of this project within the current political and economic climate in Greece."

Garinois is a junior project manager at Hou de Sousa, the New York City firm cofounded by Josh de Sousa (B.Arch. '05) and Nancy Hou (B.Arch. '05), where she is working on several domestic and international projects, including a project on the High Line Phase One that opened in April. On the side, she continues research begun at Cornell with fellow alum Liam Martin (B.Arch. '18) that explores the internet's role in providing tools for autonomy and resilience in regions of political and ecological vulnerability.

By Patti Witten

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