Using Locally Available Materials to Build Refugee Housing


Providing adequate housing and other necessary structures for displaced refugees is quite a task and the Re:Build project shows promise in this area. Re:Build is the brainchild of former Architecture for Humanity leader Cameron Sinclair, and architect Pouya Khazaeli, working in collaboration with Pilosio Building Peace, which is the non-profit section of Pilosio S.p.A, a construction and oilrig equipment manufacturer.

It is basically a simple scaffold-based construction system, which can be employed to build homes, schools, clinics, and other types of structures. One of the key advantages of this system is that it uses materials such as sand, gravel, and earth, which are readily available, while also enabling the refugees to construct the buildings themselves.


The Re:Build system is quite basic and is made up of scaffolding tubes, which are joined together to create a simple frame for the structure being constructed. Fencing is then added to hold the gravel and sand. These scaffolding platforms are used as the roof of a structure and then earth is piled on them to insulate the building. The roof is also turned into a green roof and the walls are filled by filling them with whatever is available onsite like sand, gravel and so on. The floor is constructed out of plywood panels, while the structures also have a simple rainwater collection system installed.





The Re:Build project team claims a group of 10 workers should be able to construct a 52 x 52 ft (16 x 16 m) building in two weeks with no prior construction experience, if the process is overseen by a Pilosio Building Peace technician.


Two schools have already been built using the Re:Build system in Jordan, in the Za’atari refugee camp and Queen Rania Park. Each of the schools cost about $32,000 to build, which includes the materials, transport, construction, labor and design and planning costs. The Re:Build team is currently constructing a school, market, a residential area, canteen and an information center in a refugee camp in Somalia.

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