The Healthy Housing for the Displaced project, led by Professor David Coley and Dr Jason Hart alongside Dr Dima Albadra, was named the winner of the RIBA Research Award ‘Housing’ category.

The RIBA Awards celebrate the best research in the fields of architecture and the built environment in which there are four categories: Cities and Community, Design and Technical, History and Theory, and the Annual Theme which this year was ‘Housing'.

In 2017, 51 submissions were received from 11 countries with a significant number of practice-based entries. The work submitted provides a glimpse of just some of the research being undertaken across the globe by architects, built environment professionals, academics and students and includes fieldwork and case studies from the USA, Singapore, China, Brazil and across the UK.

Lead Investigator and Professor of Low Carbon Design in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, David Coley, said: “This is represents a strong statement of what UK-funded research can achieve. Much of the thanks lies with the refugees who let us into their lives.”

Co-investigator and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, Dr Jason Hart, said: “This recognition by RIBA sharpened my awareness of the immense value we can create through our project. It is also fantastic encouragement for our ongoing research.”

Post Doctoral Research Associate in the Centre for Energy and the Design of Environments (EDEn), Dr Dima Albadra, commented: “I’m very pleased that our research project has been recognised by RIBA, and we hope this will bring the issue of housing displaced people to the forefront.”

Commenting on reaching this decision, the RIBA judging panel said: “This is an important and timely topic which has been neglected in the past. This paper on the thermal comfort of temporary shelters in displacement camps; a gap in the knowledge and the literature that, it would seem is essential, presently. This work is clearly written, well argued, with legible and comprehendible diagrams, it offers an interesting evaluation of the case studies chosen.”

Working with colleagues at Princess Sumaya University for Technology (Jordan), German Jordanian University (Jordan), and Mersin University (Turkey), the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project is aiming to improve the living conditions in refugee camps by designing low-cost and easy to construct housing that will moderate extremes of temperature and ensure the privacy, comfort and dignity of residents.

The three-year EPSRC-funded project will conduct the largest ever global study investigating thermal, air quality and social conditions in camps housing displaced people.

The research team will design and test a number of shelters at the University’s Building Research Park in Swindon, using novel combinations of conventional and non-conventional materials to ensure the shelters naturally stay warm in winter and cool in summer. The most promising of these designs will then be transported to Jordan to test in local conditions and obtain the feedback of camp occupants and aid agencies.

The winning project paper entitled ‘Healthy Housing for the Displaced’ will be published in a special issue in February 2018 in the Journal of Architecture.

The first publication from this project 'Thermal comfort in desert refugee camps: An interdisciplinary approach' was published in Building and Design.