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Conflict and Natural Disasters
 
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
I'm currently a finalist in engineering science at Oxford University. As part of a design project I've been asked to design some housing units/ warehouses etc. for a refugee camp (20,000 people) in Sierra Leone. I have relatively little experience in this field and I would greatly appreciate and ideas, experience, tips that any of you may have. Thanks very much, Sarah.
Sarah Woolley
Responses
 
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
Sarah, the ArchNet Digital Library can provide you a good starting point by showcasing some projects that may give you insight to the problem of refugee housing. Though all of these projects are not refugee camps they do deal with housing urban poor in spaces that have dignity and provide for basic needs. The projects highlighted below, I believe will help you. Many of them will be linked to articles published about the projects which will provide the necessary background. (Just scroll down once you are at the project front page). You can also go to the Digital Library and click on Images on the top tool bar. Once there, browse by building type, and look for urban settlements. The same can be done for publications. Click on publications on the top tool bar. Once there, browse by keyword under urban settlement. You can look at this issue as one of providing a place to house thousands of people or you can challenge yourself into creating a place that will provide more than just cells to sleep in. I hope the projects listed below will help.

East Wahdat Upgrading Program
Kampung Improvement Program
Kampung Kali Cho-de
Kampung Kebalan Improvement
Slum Networking of Indore
Satara Zone Housing
Intergrated Training Center

Shiraz Allibhai
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
Hi Sarah i don't know exactly what the refugee houses look like, but the word "units" really scared me, please take care it seems to be a prototype houses which is not fair for the people who need peace... , and if u decide to give the peace to anyone you have to live with his feelings first, cause the issue here is not to get the approval from the owners, but to feel the success in those people life...
Maged Shohdy
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
Appologies for using the term 'unit', it implies absolutely nothing about the style of the refugee dwellings. Each unit is to be designed to be a safe, secure, comfortable living space incorporating as much self-sufficiency and self management into the process as possible. I am designing the units to maintain human dignity and sustain family and community life as far as possible in what are difficuly circumstances. I hope this puts your mind at ease! Thank you for your comments. Sarah
Sarah Woolley
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
is it housing or warehouses? if it is housing, will these houses become a permanent house for these families or are they going to be used as temporarily by a certain family until they have somewhere to go? What will they be used for after the war? Good luck to sierra Leone, i had war in my country as well,(not as violent as there), no one should be forced to participate in a war , specialy children Jorge Campos
Jorge Campos
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
If you are thinking of temporary housing, maybe the best solution will be to use some sort of industrially manufactured spaces that can be cheap to produce and easy to assemble and disassemble. If you are interested in the possibility of industrially manufacture housing, try searching for some of Richard Buckminster Fuller's work.
Miguel Cruz Freire da Cruz
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
The housing for the refugees is only designed to be there for 6 months. I was however going to make the school and perhaps the hospital a permanent structure for use of the local community after the refugees have moved on (or if the refugees stay longer than the intended 6 months.)
Sarah Woolley
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
The basic problem we see in conventional refugee housing is that there is no housing at all. We see large families of refugees put in tents with no kind of minimal living conditions. Like Maged Shohdy stated before, the word unit provoques a negative reaction in our minds, not becouse of the way you ment it, but becouse it reminds us of a sort of dumping place for human beings. This image comes to our minds becouse thats what refugee camps really are, but they shouldn't be. I think one of the first things you should do is make a list of the basic human needs (a place to rest, shelter from the elements, basic sanitation, a place to eat, etc) and start working on a way to satisfy all of this needs in a reasonably small space (but not to small, large enough not to have a personal space invasion and to provide some amount of privacy, but small enough to put 20,000 people in temporary shelters togheter). You should also try to reaserch all sorts of minimal spaces, looking for space management solutions. Try studying traillers, boats and trains. They use a lot of good sollutions. Also try to reasearch japonese capsule hotels, Archigram group's projects, le Corbusier's petit cabanon and others. But i think the most important thing to do is make their life at the camp the closest possible to normal daily life. And once again, remember, mass production will make it cheap. If you need any help feel free to e-mail me. Good luck.
Miguel Cruz Freire da Cruz
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
the topic for ur design project is quite interesting. i m student of final year architecture. a thesis project, one year ago, was done on the refugee camps to serve the afghan refugees refuging in PAKISTANI territory on PAK AFGHAN BORDER. The design solution came was in form of individual dwellings followed by community gathering spaces and other amenities. one honest advice for you is make sure that ur design, whether structurally, socially or aesthetically should be responsive to the users. should be quite closer to their normal daily life. u can mail me for further discussion. Arshad Minhas undraapee@hotmail.com
Arshad Minhas
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
Coming from S.L. I wish you all the best with your project. Where exactly in S.L. Why not check UNHCR? MSF? They must have a lot of experience. All the best.
Mange Bure
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
Hello there My organization, the Norwegian Refugee Council has been operating two refugee camps in SL for some years. As the Shelter Advisor I visited them last December; one in Port LOko is now closed down, the other near Kenema we operate on behalf of UNHCR, will probably remain for some time, due to the refugee influx from Liberia. Accomodation in camps varies; one method is just pole frame, 4 units together, and plastic sheeting walls and roof, the other is individual huts, with wattle and daube walls with palm leaves / plastic sheeting roofs. Warehouses as accomodation is not really realistic nor desirable. The abundance of forest biomass and small population make it very attractive to utilise local materials and traditional skills, but take care with the fire-risk. The high rainfall is another important factor.

The war is now over, and for HCR and the NGOs the challenge is to provide a resettlement service attracting people back to their former farms and villages, otherwise we shall experience an explosion of informal / slum settlements on the outskirts of the main towns, without access to land for cultivation. Freetown has very rapidly doubled its population. The country is in great need to increase its staple food and cash crops production. Evidently, the supply of emergency grains is not sustainable, but may change the diet for a large number of "beneficiaries". There is a great need to improve the performance of traditional building, utilizing traditional crafts and local materials, for low-cost housing, schools and clinics etc. This is a challenge I'm working on for the moment, in order to assist a large part of the SL population with protection, safety and a new future. There is room for many skills and approaches. All the best Terje Bodoegaard

Terje Bodoegaard
Housing for refugees in Sierra Leone
Sarah, I am currently drafting a report for the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children on, inter alia, the shelter needs of uprooted women in Sierra Leone. I would greatly appreciate learning of the results of your work as described above. Many thanks, CMO'C
Courtney Mireille O'Connor
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