Housing crisis

Written by: Eureka! | Published:
For semi-permanent dwelling, one good option could be using the shipping containers re-engineered ...

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There are 25.9 million refugees in the world today, and the World Bank projects that 143 million people will be forcibly displaced by 2050. To house this tremendous number of vulnerable people is a monumental challenge.

The dilemma is not only related to materials but to points of view: refugee camps are currently regarded as temporary installations. Yet, in certain refugee camps, such as Dadaab in Nigeria, many people have stayed for over 20 years – an entire generation.

Living in exposed makeshift tents that are replaced every six months renders the current situation deeply flawed in terms of cost, sustainability, and living standards. More and more camps are long term residencies and, some suggest, should be considered the foundations for new cities – sites to reintegrate displaced people and to rebuild thriving communities.

The challenge

Along these lines, the challenge this month is to design a permanent or semi-permanent dwelling to house refugees who are spending longer and longer in makeshift camps, with the aim of increasing their quality of life.

The constraints include that the dwelling must be cheap, easy to install and maintain, and able to last for many years in various weather conditions. You may also want to think about what materials to construct it from, innovative supporting structures and fixings as well as security and what amenities you would include.

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the December issue of Eureka! Until then, see what you can come up with. Submit your ideas by leaving a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor: paul.fanning@markallengroup.com

Solution to last month’s Coffee Time Challenge

The solution to last month’s challenge to design a more robust dwelling to improve the living conditions of refugees comes from Cutwork, an award-winning European architecture and design studio, and US-based Cortex Composites.

The companies have developed a pioneering self-built, low-cost, long-term, ‘just add water’ housing solution called The Cortex Shelter. Its innovative pioneering design resolves many of the critical problems currently unaddressed by more conventional solutions.

The Cortex Shelter combines Cutwork’s bendable metallic tube construction system and Cortex Composite’s rollable concrete technology, to create a permanent rapid-assembly housing unit that can be built in a single day by hand by two unskilled people. Cost, energy and environmentally efficient, it affords those living within stability, security, and a far greater quality of life.

Windows provide significant lighting and aeration of the space as well as views. Solar panels on the roof provide energy and internal lighting. The inclusion of a toilet, shower, and kitchen cooking stove within the Shelter means its inhabitants can avoid the often dangerous and unregulated communal cooking and washing areas, especially unsafe for women and children. Due to the long-term nature of the Shelter design (up to 30 years) and cost concerns, extra design features can be added allowing the structure to adapt in response to different circumstances and organisational support.

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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.

For semi-permanent dwelling, one good option could be using the shipping containers re-engineered to produce an affordable, easy to install, minimum maintenance structures. Of course, these structures need to be designed for human friendly dwelling. They would last longer and suitable for all moderate weather condition. And based on the climate conditions at vicinity, it can be insulated. There could be minimum tooling/fixtures/support mechanism to sustain the structures in 'livable' condition.They might be reliable in a long-run too.
Prakash Durairaj

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