Conflict-induced displacement are affecting an increasingly number of victims: the UHNCR’s 2016 report estimates that a record number of 65.5MM (more than the total population of the UK) people were forcibly displaced. Furthermore, disaster-induced displacements are also more frequent due to climate change, with some of the highest profile natural disasters in 2017 being Hurricanes Harvey and Inma or the 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City. As geopolitical and climate challenges emerge, my project strives to improve the answers to humanitarian crisis with a simple solution which could be applied worldwide. This aims to be a bridge solution, easy to transport, set up and remove, with a temporary character. It will be available to be used until long term decisions are taken and implemented.
The core of the project is the Umbrella Module. This is designed as a foldable structure that allows pillars to pivot and form a single piece with the beams. The small pillars fold again to obtain a compact structural unit which a 20ft container can host up to four pieces. The main pillar houses the installations in a pre-assembled manner and allows for quick assembly and disassembly. Once dismantled, the module can be transported and re-used for a different construction. The innovating thinking of this concept incorporates novel construction techniques, is easily adaptable and respects the constraints of scarcity of natural resources. Several configurations can be envisaged using the module, either on the horizontal or vertical axis. Because of the large footprint, a horizontal setup is more difficult to manage as an object; as modules get added, it risks becoming a poorly designed urban development. The benefits a vertical construction are the improved conditions of sanitization, heating, security, access, and the reduced costs. The towers configuration I proposed includes 450 apartments which could host 2000 people, one quarter of the peak population level of the Calais jungle, on a footprint 100 times smaller.
I have chosen as an example site, a park in the city center of Aleppo, Syria, with no building debris. The two vertical housing units are projected to include all the needed auxiliary spaces at the first floors that can offer shelter for the people who are working and reconstructing the city. The Umbrella will shape the new communities and will be a first step for the reconstruction of the city. A family which choses to return to their home town of Aleppo will be able to install their own module in the tower structure. This action will immediately empower and make them feel that they belong to a community by contributing to it. The family could use this temporary space until they find a permanent residence.
Each module will be connected to the electricity and sewerage system. Every floor will have a common space in which educational and cultural activities can take place. The older residents, with potential transportation difficulties, will occupy the first floors of the structure, where they can move more freely and where the caretakers can be more effective. Independent families will inhabit the superior floors and will interact with each other in the common space. With this project, my aim was to propose a solution for displaced individuals. The Umbrella answers to this challenge not only by looking at the small-scale problem but also by tackling global issues. I expect the Umbrella to be a catalyst for the reconstruction of urban areas and of their communities.