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University of Bath

Healthy housing for displaced people

Our project aims to create a science of shelter design to improve the living conditions of refugees and other displaced persons living in camps.

Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

Our project aims to improve the living conditions in refugee camps. We are doing this by designing low-cost and easy-to-construct housing. It will both moderate extremes of temperature as well as ensure the privacy, comfort and dignity of residents. We are working with Princess Sumaya University for Technology (Jordon), German Jordanian University (Jordan) and Mersin University (Turkey) to achieve this.

This is the largest ever global study into thermal, air quality and social conditions in camps housing displaced people. We will record the views of camp occupants and aid agencies such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on key social issues and housing enhancement.

Aid agencies provide invaluable support and resources for large numbers of displaced people in camps. Yet, our recent pilot study revealed that shelter design can create specific problems for inhabitants. This results in increasing demands upon humanitarian organisations. Occupants' health can be seriously undermined by bad design. Poorly-insulated shelters will fail to mediate extreme temperatures. And design that doesn't meet basic needs for privacy and security can harm psycho-social wellbeing.

Our project will use building physics to inform shelter design. We will use novel combinations of conventional and non-conventional materials to make sure that shelters stay naturally warm in winter and cool in summer.

We will create 20 shelter designs and construct six of these at the University of Bath's Building Research Park in Swindon. Here we will test construction times and use a climate chamber to perform thermal tests.

We will transport our best designs to Jordan to test in local conditions. We will also get feedback from camp occupants and aid agencies.

For further information, visit our project website.