We develop a solution for transitional housing which could be easily produced and installed in countries facing housing crises to host the refugees. Once the war ends such affordable, mobile and modular units should also be transported to Ukraine, to empower those who will be rebuilding the country. To act quickly and efficiently, we are exploring possibilities of adapting and improving solutions which are already known. We believe the project should be developed in collaboration with manufacturers, engineers and entrepreneurs from the early stage. To help efficiently, we need to be focused on bringing our innovation to mass production capability in a short time frame. Because of that, we focus on developing concepts to optimise, improve and adapt existing solutions.
Existing shelter solutions rarely take into account psychological, social and cultural needs. Our main focus is on participatory processes, through which we want to embrace those needs and translate them to design solutions. The user group in the current humanitarian crisis consists mostly of women, children and elderly people at the moment, while after the war ends the unit will be likely to host reunited families and extended families. There is also a need to understand the cultural specificities and needs of that group and respond to them. We believe that for an adequate response, learning from the residents of Ukraine in a participatory process is necessary.
Tents, shelters, containers and other solutions most often used in humanitarian aid are temporary solutions, which are efficient in immediate response but fail to support the communities in the state of permanence, for which they were not designed. In the current humanitarian crises, we need to propose transitional solutions which are adequate to host refugees for a longer time and achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability. Transitional housing, with a longer intended life cycle, is a solution which offers more dignity and improved living conditions for the refugees, compared to the short-term solutions. When no longer needed, mobile and modular solutions can later be transported to other places or repurposed for other functions.
To make the structure sustainable from the economic point of view, our design group proposes solutions for clusters of units and indicates in the masterplan strategies which other facilities like workspaces, infrastructure, education or community buildings are needed. We want to provide designer assistance not only in proposing sheltering solutions but also in creating sustainable neighbourhoods.
There is a need to adapt the existing solutions to the challenges of the climate, particularly harsh winters with heavy snow. With a closer collaboration of humanitarian architects with the private sector, environmentally friendly solutions can become affordable and quickly assembled. We propose to use solutions for mobile, transitional housing units which already exist in the market and adapt them to the demands of the local climate in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
Participatory processes and prototyping are crucial for the first months of our initiative, to inform our research and design. As the first step, we are organising two editions of workshops with refugees from Ukraine - in the Netherlands, with the support of TU Delft, and in Poland. Through this activity, we want to understand the community needs and the challenges of the local climate and test our design ideas through 1:1 prototypes.
You can support the organisation of participatory and prototyping workshops through our crowdfunding page.