Healthy Housing for the Displaced is a three-year research project to develop 20 possible shelter designs. 

At the end of 2016 there were 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, of which four million are refugees living in camps. With climate change producing rising sea-levels, mass migration may become the ‘new normal’.

For this project, construction times will be measured and the shelters’ performance assessed in a climate chamber. Initial research by the team in Jordan reveals that the limitations of current shelter design can exacerbate demands on humanitarian organisations — poorly insulated structures don’t shelter people against temperature extremes. People often have to rely on degrading strategies such as pouring water on themselves while clothed to cope with the heat.

Psychosocial wellness requires a sense of autonomy and independence that is limited in the context of the refugee camp. Cultural needs of refugees may also suffer as a result, with notions of dignity, privacy and comfort being side-lined in relation to mere protection from threats.

The researchers will employ building physics to inform the design of shelters using novel combinations of conventional and non-conventional materials to ensure the shelters naturally stay warm in winter and cool in summer.


Location: Jordan

Credit: University of Bath, with research partners from Princess Sumaya University for Technology (Jordan), German Jordanian University (Jordan), and Mersin University (Turkey)

Images:  Scarlett Coley