The war in Ukraine continues, and the number of refugees has risen to 5million, according to the U.N. Renowned for his involvement in humanitarian aid, Shigeru Ban and the Voluntary Architects' Network have been deploying a paper partition system (PPS) for emergency shelters in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, designed to provide some privacy to the Ukrainian refugees. Since early March, PPS has been installed in Poland, Slovakia, France, and Ukraine by Shigeru Ban Architects and VAN, collaborating with local architects and volunteer students.
Emergency Shelter: The Latest Architecture and News
According to data from CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters) and UNISDR (UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction), in a report released in 2016, the number of disasters related to the climate change has duplicated in the last forty years. The need for temporary shelters for homeless people is, as well as an effect of the climate crisis, is also one of the consequences of the disorderly growth of cities, which leads to a significant part of the world population living in vulnerable conditions due to disasters.
When facing emergencies such as natural disasters, warfare or pandemics, architecture must offer immediate and effective solutions. In these unfortunate circumstances, the priority is usually to solve problems around housing, however, once the emergency is under control, the focus starts to slowly move towards meeting places such as community centers, neighborhood councils and public spaces.
To create new meeting places in emergency situations, scaffolding is a good alternative regarding construction speed and tight budgets. Although they are usually used as temporary structures, they also allow creating a quickly composed space playing with horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, and the combination with other materials such as textile, wood, polycarbonate and metal.
Earthquakes, pandemics, conflicts, and environmental disasters are some of the events that have challenged architects, planners, designers, and engineers. The goal is to find ways of creating structures and infrastructure more quickly, easily, efficiently, suiting both the circumstances and the location in which they will be implemented. When searching for materials that meet the requirements for each situation, those considered "alternative" or unusual - at least in the context of emergency shelters - can offer great opportunities for experimentation and applicability for emergency structures. Containers and tensioned fabrics always come to mind when discussing temporary constructions. However, there are other highly available materials with good mechanical properties that can achieve relief purposes.
Throughout human history, the movement of populations–in search of food, shelter, or better economic opportunities–has been the norm rather than the exception. Today, however, the world is witnessing unprecedented levels of displacement. The United Nations reports that 68.5 million people are currently displaced from their homes; this includes nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of eighteen. With conflicts raging on in countries like Syria and Myanmar, and climate change set to lead to increased sea levels and crop failures, the crisis is increasingly being recognised as one of the foundational challenges of the twenty-first century.
While emergency housing has dominated the discourse surrounding displacement in the architecture industry, it is critical for architects and planners to study and respond to the socio-cultural ramifications of population movements. How do we build cities that are adaptive to the holistic needs of fluid populations? How do we ensure that our communities absorb refugees and migrants into their local social fabric?
This World Refugee Day, let’s take a look at 5 shining examples of social infrastructure from around the world–schools, hospitals, and community spaces–that are specifically directed at serving displaced populations.
As hospitals in the United States are about to hit capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, startup JUPE HEALTH is creating a series of mobile units to address the lack of beds. The team explains that with a healthcare system on the verge of collapse, the project is designed as rapidly deployed rest and recovery units, as well as mobile ICUs.
Istanbul-based practice SO? have designed and built a prototype floating structure for post-earthquake relief. “Fold&Float” is formed of a light, foldable steel structure specifically designed for emergency situations.
Developed off the back of emergency assembly points being designated by the authorities in 2001, SO? questioned where people could be housed in the event of an earthquake. The question has gained added significance in the last 20 years, with Istanbul having privatized 70% of the land set aside for emergency assembly. The result was a floating structure that depends not on vacant, stable land, but on managing water.
Following natural disaster or conflict, architecture plays a critical role in not only reconstructing lost infrastructure but also responding to the need for comfort and safety for those affected. Successful post-disaster architecture must meet both the short-term need for immediate shelter, as well as long-term needs for reconstruction and stability. Eight years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, those displaced continue to reside in temporary shelters without adequate access to plumbing and electricity, revealing the critical importance of addressing long-term needs after disaster and conflict.
Below, we've rounded up 10 impressive examples of post-disaster architecture that range from low-cost, short-term proposals to those that attempt to rebuild entire communities from the ground up:
Christian Weber, a 20-plus year veteran of the Burning Man festival has learned a few tricks on the Playa. Shelter from the harsh Black Rock Desert winds, heat, dust and cold nights are attributes of an experienced camp. “Every year we unload our camp out of the container and use our container as our kitchen. It literally has fold-down tables [and] air conditioning… and when we’re all done, we throw it back in the container and it’s ready to go for next year.”
Japanese architect and 2014 Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban will visit Ecuador on April 30 to help with disaster relief following the recent earthquake, according to a press release from the College of Ecuadorian Architects – Pichincha Province (CAE Pichincha). Known for bringing innovative and high quality design to the people that need it the most, Ban has developed successful responses to disasters in Asia, Africa, Europe and Central America.
Designed and developed by Pilosio Building Peace, RE:BUILD is a construction system for building refugee camps and facilities for emergency assistance. The temporary modular structures can be used as houses, schools, clinics, dining areas or any other space that is urgently needed.
Using the ground “beneath your feet,” the Pilosio Building Peace organization, along with architects Pouya Khazaeli and Cameron Sinclair, have developed RE:BUILD, an incredible constructive system for building safe and comfortable structures in refugee camps. The system allows for the construction of temporary buildings of high quality through the use of wall panels formed with scaffolding and grids, which are then assembled and filled with gravel, sand or earth, creating well insulated interiors at a low cost.
Although the structures can be used for hospitals, housing, and other functions on this occasion we present two schools constructed using this system in Jordan.