Transitional Shelter, Built by Users
Refugees have different reasons for leaving their homeland. In seeking generosity and acceptance from the people in foreign land, their sense of uncertainty and isolation is inevitable and understandable. In the diverse social, cultural, religious environment of the European society, newly-arrived refugees could only patiently await assistance. The lack of social engagement would often trigger a sense of helplessness and loss of dignity. If left unaddressed, this may potentially lead to social burden.
In Helsinki Design Week 2017, we deliver our proposal to build a transitional shelter together with refugees, citizens and international students. The built shelter can provide a decent living space for participating refugees to sooth any sense of anxiety from having to leave their homeland. Furthermore, through their own efforts, the participatory and collaborative construction process can comfort the refugee’s sense of uncertainty and rebuild their sense of value and dignity, while nurturing their ability and creativity for the future reconstruction of their homeland.
Self-sufficient Living /Sustainability
Our proposed transitional shelter is built by an easy-to-assemble wooden frame. By simplifying the process of construction and applying easily acquired and recyclable materials, this process significantly reduces the technical requirements, thereby allowing people to build their own house with simple tools. The walls of the transitional shelter are filled with soil and straw bales for insulation, preserving heat and controlling moisture. The shelter contains a urine-diverting dry toilet, and could potentially be equipped with solar electric power system. These components make each shelter self-sufficient without having to rely on municipal services. In the event of refugees returning to their homeland, all building materials could be reused for other constructions, including social housing. This would minimize the overall environmental impact of building construction.
Our exhibition has three components: 1) the housing unit; 2) a gallery showing the previous work of Architect HSIEH and his team; and 3) a media platform showing the exchange of ideas between shelter builders and visitors. The two-floor shelter contains on its ground floor an open space for a small grocery shop, a studio or a communal space; and on the upper floor a private dwelling space. During the exhibition, visitors can view the whole structural system and construction process, and share their ideas and opinions.
From Survival to Contribution
The avarice and insatiable consumerism in today’s housing industry has made everyone a consumer who ought to pay a fortune simply for a place to live. Refugees may not have the financial ability to pay which may preclude them as ‘consumers’ of the housing market. By taking this collaborative, simplified and low-cost construction approach, refugees can apply their skillset and contribute their efforts not only for their own housing needs, but also for resolving any potential tensions and conflicts with the host communities.