Since 2017, UN-Habitat, together with Shigeru Ban Architects, Philippe Monteil and the NGO Voluntary Architects' Network, developed several shelter typologies for a pilot neighborhood in Kalobeyei Settlement in Kenya. The Turkana Houses are meant to house South Sudanese and other refugees living in Northern Kenya who could not return to their original villages due to endless civil wars and conflicts. Unlike typical refugee shelters, these structures were meant to provide a home for long periods of displacement and the four typologies developed are informed by the extensive experience of Shigeru Ban Architects with disaster relief projects and the local building techniques of local people.
Kenya has been hosting refugees and asylum seekers in the Kakuma Refugee Camp since 1992 and, in 2015, with the support of UNHCR, established the Kalobeyei Settlement on 1,500 hectares of land to improve the aims of improving the livelihood opportunities of refugees and promoting self-reliance. UN-Habitat was tasked with designing a development plan for the settlement that would accommodate 60,000 people, both refugees, and community members, as one of the primary conditions for the development was that investments would be shared equally by the refugees and the local community.
In 2017, UN-Habitat co-opted Shigeru Ban Architects and the NGO Voluntary Architects Network for the development of several shelter typologies for a pilot neighborhood in Kalobeyei Settlement and Philippe Monteil was in charge of overseeing the project and developing it further on-site. The four proposed typologies were inspired by the building techniques of the nomadic Turkana people and were informed by extensive research into the vernacular architecture of the region and a comprehensive survey of the refugee population. Refugees and Turkana people were hired to build their own houses so that they could maintain the structures.
It took us almost a year to build four pilot shelters, experimenting with different building techniques with a constant back and forth exchange between design and construction. The pilots were literally designed on-site through construction. The original drawings were mere visions, which were transformed through the construction experience on-site. - Philippe Monteil
The project included four types of structures: Type A, The Paper Tube House, features paper tubes structure and cladding, woven together like the branches of the Turkana huts, while Type B is a timber frame structure filled with burnt bricks. Prototype C is made off compressed earth blocks, a common technique in Africa, and a fourth paper featured a paper tube structure covered with braches for nomadic houses. The construction process of the prototype shelters subsequently informed the design, as tools availability, local construction skills, and climate conditions lead to the simplification of some details and the rethinking of others.
Info via UN-Habitat.