Humanizing the Refugee Crisis

We are inundated with headlines, videos, photos and stories detailing the current refugee crisis. While a daunting and seemingly insurmountable issue for global leaders, people around the world have taken the politics out of the situation and work to provide solutions of their own. Here we showcase current initiatives in three European countries.

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Culturally-Appropriate Housing for Life in Northern Canada

A new initiative in Northern Canada aims to develop housing for Aboriginal residents that are not only significantly more energy efficient than current buildings, but are also designed with cultural traditions in mind. The project, dubbed the “Northern Sustainable House” is being piloted in Arviat, Nunavut, with similar initiatives underway in Dawson City, Yukon, and Whitehorse, Northwest Territories.

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Shipping Containers Have the Potential to Deliver Homes

When natural disasters strike, thousands of people are often left homeless. Emergency shelters are always in need, and new innovations have recently allowed for many new creations, such as the Biosphere and Exo-Units. Recently, the idea of “cargotecture” has been taking off. “Cargotecture” takes shipping containers, refurbishes them, and turns them into sustainable homes. A new proposal using this type of construction is the proposal …

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Affordable, Stackable, and Sustainable Emergency Shelter

Michael McDaniel had witnessed many hurricanes growing up in Mississippi, but nothing came close to the destruction that Hurricane Katrina brought in 2005. Humanitarian responses were slow to start, very costly, and close to one million people were left homeless. This prompted McDaniel to begin developing his own innovative technology to ensure that people directly affected by disasters would be given …

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IKEA’s Flat-pack, Solar Powered Refugee Shelter

The IKEA Foundation has partnered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and developed a flat-pack, solar powered refugee shelter called the Refugee Housing Unit. The prototype is the result of more than two years of research and 3.4 million Euros. According to Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, at least 3.5 million refugees currently live in …

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Solar Heating from Scraps and Pop Cans

Winter makes a lot of things harder, especially for those living in colder regions on a fixed income. Heating costs seem to go up every year, but there is generally little that can be done to offset the bills without heavy investments in insulation or heaters. Several years ago, a company called Cansolair developed a system of using regular aluminum …

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Transitional Housing from Shipping Pallets

  Lately I’ve been reading a lot about transitional and relief housing designs. One project stood out recently as being innovative both in design and material sourcing. The Pallet House, designed by architectural firm I-Beam, uses shipping pallets and other readily available materials to construct a house that can then be easily improved and added upon as situations improve. Pallets …

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Print Your Own House

Fast, affordable, durable, and livable shelters are an essential part of emergency relief and the often protracted transition to stable housing in the years following a disaster. Traditional construction methods are often slow, expensive, inefficient, and dangerous, the combination of which creates roadblocks in community-based building projects, particularly in low-income areas. Now a group of engineers is using emerging 3D …

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