Above: Refugee housing, designed to be homes
Architecture isn’t often a consideration in refugee camps. But architects from Minneapolis-based Architects for Society (AFS) believe it ought to be. That’s why the group is developing what they’re calling the Hex House, a rapidly deployable and modifiable house designed for people who’ve fled natural or human-caused disasters.
Refugee housing should reflect the reality that refugees often don’t live in camps temporarily but sometimes for more than 20 years, AFS director Amro Sallam says. “We are never going to be able to give them what they left, but what we can at least try to do is make what they live in now as dignified as possible,” he says.
Designed for long-term occupancy, the Hex house is easy to assemble and customize. The walls and roof are self-supporting, which allows occupants to layout their homes as they prefer and combine one unit with another, if needed. It is designed for off-the-grid conditions, with solar panels and rainwater harvesting and passive cooling capabilities.
AFS is working on a prototype, aiming at a January 2017 completion date. Sallam says the estimated price for one unit will be between $20,000 and $25,000, and the organization has set up a GoFundMe page to support the project.
With Hex House, AHS is hoping to show the world that even those who’ve been displaced by war and disaster can have a permanent home. “A home is much more than a just a box. It is also a spiritual place, a place you can customize and make your own,” Sallam says, adding: The place you live in shouldn’t feel temporary.
By Hannah Johnson
Photos by AFS PSC