The refugee crisis in the Middle East
With the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2010, thousands of families seeking asylum fled their homes from all around the Arab world. The miserable conditions in the war conflicted Arab countries led the people to abandon their lives behind them and seek a safe place for them and for their children, as some of those children were born in the war, and experienced nothing but the war. Jordan was one of the few countries that were not affected directly by the Arab Spring, and that’s why millions of refugees flooded Jordan in few years.
The Sweet Burden
Jordan is relatively small kingdom in the Middle East with a population of 8 million people before the Arab spring. After the Arab Spring began, 2 million Syrian refugees entered Jordan from the northern borders, making the Syrian refugees 20% of the total population in Jordan. It’s like if the United states admitted 63.8 million refugees! Jordan was suffering economically before the refugee crises with a high rate of unemployment and a low income per capita, and the huge number of uneducated and unemployed refugees made it even worse. And there is a probability that there are some terrorists who disguise as refugees to recruit the innocent refugees into their terrorist organisations. Admitting refugees is definitely a hard decision to make and many people around the world keep asking why We Jordanians continued to admit the refugees into our country with the rough circumstances of Jordan, and we always answer that it’s a sweet burden, because with each refugee we admit we save a life, a generation, and a culture.
The current refugee camps
Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, the Jordanian government with the help of the international community started building camps for the huge number of refugees. The government didn’t have much time to think a lot about effective and durable solutions to the refugee crisis, so they used the conventional method of constructing a refugee camp which is using tents in a random organization. Also the utilities were not taken by consideration when building most of the refugee camps, so most the refugees suffer from the lack of water and electricity. I was inspired to do this project because of my visit to Al-Zaatari refugee camp in the summer last year, as I saw the miserable conditions that the families are living in, and I really wanted to help them overcome this situation.
The goal of my architectural design is to eliminate the refugee housing crisis in Jordan, as my design will improve the efficiency and durability of the housing units. The funding of the refugee camps is the main problem, so my design will be cheap and sustainable, as the energy sources will be sustainable, and the materials used in the design will be cheap and durable.
I Was greatly motivated to think about finding an architectural solution to overcome the refugee crisis, and what guided me further in this process of thinking is the solutions that were made in other countries like Abeer Siekalies tent, and Ikea’s refugee shelter. I learned from these solutions that the design should be extremely simple because the unit are going to be produced in huge numbers. Also, the efficiency of these solutions had an immense impact on the success of them.
The site location:
The location of the construction site is going to be in the Mafraq governorate, which is located in the north east of Jordan. being near the south Syrian boarders, Mafraq is the perfect choice for a refugee camp. The site doesn’t have a lot of residents which will make it easy to buy the land required for the construction. Also, it’s important to remember that the refugees need a city where they can be employed easily, and Mafraq is a much better place for the refugees to work in than Amman.
(Mafraq in Jordan)
The design for the refugee housing unit should be very simple because of the huge quantities that are going to be produced, and therefore I decided to make a simple circular refugee unit that can house a family of five. The unit will only contain living room that also serves as a bedroom, and a bathroom, and there will be complementary structures in the camp to serve all the refugees like a dining hall.
I decided to add a dome to the structure, as it’s a signature for architectural aesthetics, and the dome is going to give an impression to the residents that the unit is spacious. The small portion of the top of the dome is going to be transparent to make the light penetrate the unit to add a special effect on lights and shadows. 2 windows are going to be implanted in the east side of the unit for sunrise natural light to enter the unit, letting residents know that the day have started, meaning that the units will face the east. The solar panels are going to be place on the dome above the door, which will provide ample sunlight to be transferred to electric energy. The interior design is going to be based on the Arabic style of living rooms, which is using Arabic mattresses that can be used for sitting and sleeping. and there’s an internal wall separating the living room from the bathroom.
Radius: 5 meters (Diameter: 10 meters) Height of the walls: 2 meters Height of the dome: 1 meter Total height: 3 meters
Area: 78.54m2 Height of the door: 1.6 meters
(traditional Arabic furniture)
The conventional tent in Jordan uses very cheap fabric that lasts for few month, and some refugees sell the tents because they’re not efficient. the reason why these tents are used is the easy access to this cheap fabric, and this shows that the organizations responsible for the tents only think about the short term solutions.
The materials that are going to be used in the refugee housing unit are going to determine many things like the cost, durability, and the efficiency of the unit. The walls are going to be constructed using the material used in synthetic resin tiles, as it’s sound insulated, fireproof, waterproof, and easily installed. Also, it’s very cheap because it’s light and made out of common materials, and the walls are going to be composed from 2 layers of the synthetic resin with insulating foam between them. The ceiling of the unit is going to be a small dome that is composed of two layers of synthetic resin material that have insulating foam between them, to reduce the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter due to the volatile weather in the north east of Jordan.
The basic needs for a refugee are electricity and water. For the electricity part, the refugee housing unit is going to contain solar panel on the dome of the unit, and this solar panel is going to supply energy to the light bulbs inside the unit, and it can be used to charge phones as well. And for the water part, the housing unit is going to be built near an Artesian aquifer to supply the unit with the drinking water needed for the residents, there are a lot of aquifers in Mafraq which will make it an easy task to do.
(Schematic of an Artesian aquifer) (Solar Panel)
Call to Action
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