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Refugee Housing: The Latest Architecture and News

Beyond Refugee Housing: 5 Examples of Social Infrastructure for Displaced People

07:30 - 20 June, 2019
Beyond Refugee Housing: 5 Examples of Social Infrastructure for Displaced People, Playgrounds for Refugee Children in Bar Elias, Lebanon. Image © CatalyticAction
Playgrounds for Refugee Children in Bar Elias, Lebanon. Image © CatalyticAction

© Y. Meiri © CatalyticAction © Filippo Bolognese © Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha + 6

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.

Archstorming Announces Winners of Mosul Postwar Camp Competition

08:15 - 14 February, 2018
Archstorming Announces Winners of Mosul Postwar Camp Competition, Courtesy of Archstorming
Courtesy of Archstorming

Archstorming has announced the winners of their Open Ideas Competition: Mosul Postwar Camp. In the competition for architects and architecture students, the challenge was to design a social reintegration solution with essential humanitarian aid for people who return home to Mosul after the Iraq war against ISIS. The competition results proved there are many ways to revitalize the lives of displaced people through the spaces they inhabit.

Shigeru Ban to Design Up to 20,000 New Homes for Refugees in Kenya

14:00 - 18 July, 2017
Shigeru Ban to Design Up to 20,000 New Homes for Refugees in Kenya, Shigeru Ban designed housing on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, following the destruction caused by a 2004 tsunami. Image © Dominic Sansoni
Shigeru Ban designed housing on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, following the destruction caused by a 2004 tsunami. Image © Dominic Sansoni

Pritzker Prize winning architect Shigeru Ban has signed an agreement with UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency tasked with guiding sustainable development, to design up to 20,000 new homes for refugees in Kenya’s Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement. Currently home to more than 37,000 refugees, the settlement is quickly outgrowing its original capacity of 45,000 – over 17,000 have arrived this year alone, with numbers expected to continue to increase.

“The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available and eco-friendly. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants.”

7 Architectural Solutions for Asylum Seekers Shown by the Finnish Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

09:30 - 18 March, 2017
7 Architectural Solutions for Asylum Seekers Shown by the Finnish Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

The 2016 Venice Biennale may have officially closed in November, but many of its constituent parts continue to have a life beyond the confines of Venice. From Border to Home, the exhibit hosted by the Finnish Pavilion, showcased the results of an international architecture competition between October and November of 2015 that called for residential solutions for asylum seekers that offer both short-term shelter for refugees and long-term impact on the surrounding community. Three winners and four honorable mentions were featured in the exhibition, accompanied by a blog that offered sustained dialogue on the topic from architects around the world. On March 21st, Finland's contribution to the Biennale will finally be concluded with a review of the Biennale's themes and a seminar on the pavilion, hosted in Helsinki. Read on to find out more about the winners and four mentions from the competition that were featured in Finland's From Border to Home pavilion.

DMOA's Maggie Shelter Provides Stable Facilities for Refugees

06:00 - 5 January, 2016

In light of recent refugee crises, Belgium-based architecture and engineering firm DMOA has become involved with The Maggie Program, an initiative to improve refugee shelter, education, and health through a new building concept.

Because most countries only allow for temporary settlements for refugees, the project centers around the Maggie Shelter, a temporary tent-like structure, that functions as a more substantial, fixed building.

Abeer Seikaly’s Structural Fabric Shelters Weave Refugees’ Lives Back Together

09:30 - 19 December, 2015
Abeer Seikaly’s Structural Fabric Shelters Weave Refugees’ Lives Back Together, Courtesy of Abeer Seikaly
Courtesy of Abeer Seikaly

Whether from political unrest or natural disaster, refugee crises around the world seem to fill the headlines of late. These events inspired interdisciplinary designer Abeer Seikaly’s conceptual emergency shelter, entitled “Weaving A Home,” which received a Lexus Design Award in 2013. The collapsible structural fabric shelter can adapt to various climates, while also providing the comforts of contemporary life such as heat, running water, and electricity.

Courtesy of Abeer Seikaly Courtesy of Abeer Seikaly Courtesy of Abeer Seikaly Courtesy of Abeer Seikaly + 14

Emergency Floor: Help Refugees Worldwide "Get Off the Ground"

08:00 - 25 June, 2015
Emergency Floor: Help Refugees Worldwide "Get Off the Ground", Floor Module in Shelter. Image Courtesy of Emergency Floor
Floor Module in Shelter. Image Courtesy of Emergency Floor

Millions of refugees across the globe, due to global conflict or natural phenomena, are forced to leave their homes and live in low-quality, temporary housing. The majority of these shelters lack a fundamental component of safety and well-being: floors. Emergency Floor is an initiative developed by Sam Brisendine and Scott Key to solve this problem, and bring safety to refugee shelters and the people in them. With their new Indiegogo campaign, Emergency Floor is working to provide efficient, inexpensive flooring that is directly geared towards assisting relief agencies.

Learn more about Emergency Floor after the break.

Underutilized Wood Pallets. Image Courtesy of Emergency Floor Module on Wood Pallet. Image Courtesy of Emergency Floor Floor Module Connection. Image Courtesy of Emergency Floor Unsafe Living Conditions in Refugee Camp. Image Courtesy of Emergency Floor + 11

Refugee Housing Unit Selected as Finalist for World Design Impact Prize

00:00 - 2 February, 2014
 Refugee Housing Unit Selected as Finalist for World Design Impact Prize, RHU via World Design Impact
RHU via World Design Impact

An IKEA prototype for a modular “Refugee Housing Unit” has been selected as one of three finalists for the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design’s (Icsid) World Design Impact Prize 2014. The pilot project was lauded for providing a “temporary shelter in which facilitates ‘a feeling of normality’ for families living in refugee camps.” The project will be measured against a “BioLite HomeStove” and “ABC Syringe” before an overall prize winner is announced. You can learn more about the unit here and preview the competing innovations here.