Dr Albadra’s winning picture – taken on 30 October 2018 using a Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera - was an image of a Syrian refugee using virtual reality to help researchers design a shelter. The picture was taken at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan, where as part of a participatory design workshop, refugees used virtual reality to give feedback and adapt suggested shelter typologies.

This work is part of a £1.5 million EPSRC-funded research project ‘Healthy Housing for the Displaced’ (HHFD) which 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.

Working with international colleagues at Princess Sumaya University for Technology (Jordan), German Jordanian University (Jordan), and Mersin University (Turkey), Dr Albadra and a team from Bath led by Professor David Coley spent time in a number of refugee camps during the initial stage of this project.

The team from Bath have conducted the largest ever global study investigating thermal, air quality and social conditions in camps housing displaced people. As part of this, Dr Albadra took a large number of images of refugees, the camps and their living conditions and shelters, including the winning image.

This study has helped inform the next stage of the project where the research team are utilising 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.

Prototypes these designs have been constructed at the University’s Building Research Park in Swindon. The most promising of these designs will then be transported to Jordan to be tested in local conditions and obtain the feedback of camp occupants and aid agencies.

Dr Albadra, Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the University of Bath’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, commented: “Participatory design is a two-way process allowing refugees to be part of the research team. It is credited with higher satisfaction in design outcomes and is an obvious way of encouraging socio-culturally sensitive solutions.

“This is usually difficult to achieve in a refugee camp context due to many practical and logistical issues. 160 refugees participated in our workshops, giving feedback on both design typologies and the participatory methods used, such as, physical models, architectural drawings and virtual reality. I am very thrilled to know that my photo entry has won.”

Dr Albadra’s supervisor and HHFD lead investigator, Professor David Coley, added: “I’m proud of the whole team at Bath, but particularly Dima, who entered the University as a refugee from Syria, and now has be recognised with this prize.”

The competition attracted 169 entries, which were grouped into five categories. Dr Albadra’s entry topped the People and Skills section and was then selected as the overall winner.

Competition judge, Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The striking photographs in this year’s competition reflect the real breadth and ingenuity of engineering research supported by the EPSRC.

“Many of the projects captured in these images will go on to transform our world for the better, improve people’s lives and the economy. It is fantastic to see such creativity, both in the images and the research projects, captured in the winners’ work.”

For more information about the Health Housing for the Displaced project, please visit https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/healthy-housing-for-refugees-in-extreme-climates/