“I've always felt strongly about the issue of homelessness and I saw the refugees as permanently displaced people devoid of a home,” says London-born, Barcelona-based Souras, who is studying for his international baccalauréat. “I instinctively wanted to provide them with that, whilst utilizing objects that were considered waste.”

This is Souras' fourth such igloo. After watching the distressing news reports about the plight of the refugees, Souras wrote to the mayor of Lesbos in 2016 and asked for some of the used life jackets to be sent to him. In his free time, he built a framework for his first igloo and assembled it after sewing 52 life jackets together. “As I am partially Greek, I was more aware of the issue as it was developing in Greece, with Lesbos especially receiving high numbers of refugees and needing to be very actively involved in their hosting,” he explains.

Photo: Alessandro Paderni
Souras recognised that the life jackets, discarded by the refugees after their perilous boat trips, provided an abundance of material. “I have an avid interest in architecture, so my reaction was to see the life jackets as more than throwaway items,” he says. “I liked the idea of using them as building blocks much like Lego pieces and see what I could build with them.”

The first igloo was exhibited at the Maritime Museum of Barcelona and a video installation about the project was shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Subsequently, Souras has made two other small igloos that have been presented in Spain, Italy and South Africa. Future displays are planned for La Triennale in Milan, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro.

Achilleas Souras making an igloo
For the Moroso exhibition, Souras again contacted the municipality of Lesbos, which cooperated in collecting the life jackets, and the Trieste Port Authority, which coordinated the transportation with Patrizia Moroso's team. “The number we were able to procure this time was much larger, which goes to show that the refugee issue is very much unresolved,” says Souras, who hopes to raise awareness through his installation, which has received official patronage from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Greek Embassy in Rome.

“The project is a symbolic and artistic gesture that can become a practical reality but is also there to make the viewer stop and think about doing something regarding these issues,” adds Souras.

Photo: Alessandro Paderni
Photo: Alessandro Paderni
SOS by Achilleas Souras is exhibited at the Moroso showroom until 22 April 2017.

Via Pontaccio 8/10, Milan

Opening hours: 10am-2pm, 3pm-7pm


Rendering by Achilleas Souras about how he imagines the igloo could be used for humanitarian purposes to house refugees.
Rendering by Achilleas Souras about how he imagines the igloo could be used for humanitarian purposes to house refugees.