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New house designs for refugees

Annika Zeitler / jgtSeptember 7, 2015

Tents, containers and gyms - they are all commonly utilized for refugee accommodation, but are unsatisfactory according to a group of student architects. In response they have designed a range of creative alternatives.

Refugee housing design. Copyright: Marc Glugla.
Image: Leibnitz Universität in Hannover

Cities such as Cologne, Munich, Hamburg and Berlin are often considered busy and densely populated. However, it doesn't take long to find an abundance of empty buildings and vacant lots - valuable space which could be utilized to help house refugees, according to architecture students at Hannover's Leibniz University.

"Fill the Gap" is, as its name implies, a project aimed at offering pragmatic solutions to refugee housing needs in Germany - without the use of tents or corrugated shipping containers. The students have created a number of designs, including ones which could easily be built on abandoned lots. They are living modules made of timber which can be constructed within one week and house up to 40 refugees over five or six levels.

"Timber also creates a more comfortable living environment than previously-used metal boxes," architect Jörg Friedrich says. The professor at the Institute of Design at Leibniz University calls for welcoming and comfortable architecture for refugees in Germany.

Friedrich initially tasked his students with finding suitable housing solutions for 2,500 refugees in urban spaces in Hannover, with no more than 50 people per dwelling - consulting with psychologists, anthropologists and conflict experts.

The project was then expanded to include designs for floating barges, apartment rooftops, flat-pack housing, and abandoned buildings across Germany.

Germany is expecting to take in 800,000 refugees in 2015.

"Refugees Welcome - Concepts for Suitable Architecture" by Jörg Friedrich, Simon Takasaki, Peter Haslinger, Oliver Thiedmann and Christoph Borchers was published in July 2015.