Centre for Development Studies

Healthy Housing for Refugees

CDS themes:

Wellbeing and human development 

Social & Policy Sciences themes:

Young People and Families, Lifelong Health and Wellbeing

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences themes:

Environment & Sustainability; Poverty & Social Justice

July 2016 – March 2017

Principle Investigator: Jason Hart, (University of Bath) 

Research Team: David Coley (ACE)

Funding Body: EPSRC GCRF Institutional Funding

Value of Award: £50,337

Partners: Earth Systems, The Architecture Centre, ClayTec, Buro Happold, M+W Engineering and Local partners in Jordan.

Project Rationale and Aims:

The long-term aim of this project is to improve living conditions in refugee camps through the creation of low-cost, easy to construct housing that moderates extremes of temperature while providing space that enables dignified living, and customary domestic and intra-community relations.

The immediate aims of this eight-month project are to:

•    Obtain a clear understanding of the thermal and social conditions in two refugee camps in Jordan and the ways that these are mediated by current shelter provision.
•    Develop detailed knowledge of the opportunities and constraints for alternative housing in light of local ecological, political and economic conditions.  
•    Produce at least three possible design solutions.
•    Model the designs in light of thermal conditions revealed through the fieldwork in Jordan.  

Planned Activities and Methodology  

WP1: Field-based research in Jordan.  
Thermal surveys and semi-structured interviews will be undertaken in Zaatari and Azraq camps in August 2016 (summer conditions) and January 2017 (winter conditions). Should research in either camp prove impossible we shall work instead in an UNRWA-run Palestinian camp. The thermal surveys will use a mix of spot measurements and week-long data logging in refugee dwellings. Twenty families in each location will be interviewed about (a) their experience of camp housing, (b) the fit of this with their physical and social needs. Humanitarian actors involved in the provision / maintenance of housing will be interviewed in order to (a) capture their experience of current housing provision, and (b) explore opportunities for local production and supply of alternative dwellings. This WP will be aided by our project partners Earth Systems and The Architecture Centre (see letters of support).

WP2: Production of a series of possible material palates and designs  
Thermal conditions are normally moderated by a combination of thermal mass and insulation. A series of possibilities for both will be studied including low-cost recyclable local materials (such as earth/rock/sand) for thermal mass, but concrete is an alternative; for insulation both modern lightweight materials and local bio-materials (e.g. straw) will be included. This work will be aided by our partners ClayTec (see letter of support). Although the thermal performance of a material is key, equally important are buildability and structural safety, hence three possible solutions will be worked up into detailed drawings with input on the structural front by our partners Buro Happold (see letter of support).

WP3:  Thermal modelling
Dynamic simulation will be used to discover the likely internal conditions in the possible solutions. The starting point will be to model the current housing in the two camps in Jordan, and validate this with the measured summer and, subsequently, winter conditions. However the performance of the designs will also be modelled in other climates from hot/dry to extreme cold (one site in each of the seven Koppen climate classifications), thereby ensuring any proto-standard is applicable worldwide. Our partners M+W Engineering will aid us in this (see letter of support). 

Project Outputs and Impact:

Expected Outputs and impact on beneficiary country: 1. Two 4* REF papers, one in Building and Environment and one in Disasters. 2. A summary report for distribution to the Jordanian Government, project partners, the press, and DFID. 3. Talks by PI and Co-I (Hart) at two Jordanian Universities and at a seminar hosted by Bath’s partner in Amman – the British Institute - for staff at the leading shelter-providing agencies: UNHCR, UNRWA, and the Norwegian Refugee Council. 4. Exposure of the student body at two Jordanian universities to the potential of passive design in their climate. 5. Creation of a solid team, validated computer simulations of our designs and three sets of drawings of possible healthy refugee housing. Together, this will put Bath in a very strong position to secure substantial EPSRC/GCRF funding to design and test a full housing standard that can be rolled out in numerous ODA countries and hence a very strong REF Impact Case Study. 6. We will start this process by holding a national workshop in Bath in early March 2017.   

For more information about this project please contact:

Jason Hart