Architecture, Refugee crisis design, Sheltainer, Shipping containers

UAE-based architects propose housing solutions for refugees and low income families using shipping containers

Converting shipping containers into homes for displaced persons is the aim of Sheltainer, a project initiated by architects Ahmed Hammad, Mouaz Abouzaid and Bassel Omara.

Architect Bassel Omara presented the proposal to an audience of design and architecture professionals at the 2017 designMENA Summit, which took place on 5 December in Dubai.

Refugees, asylum seekers, students and people of low incomes are among the categories the team are looking to assist, he explained.

The designers have used as a base for their creations the standard 20ft container, as well as the smaller 10ft variety and the larger 40ft crate.

Sheltainer designs can be adapted to any environment due to their flexibility and the fact that containers provide excellent insulation.

The architects explained their reasons for choosing the crates, saying said there are 30 million unused containers in the world.

If they were laid end-to-end they would circle the world more than twice – and around 20 million travel the oceans each year. With populations increasing, this figure is set to expand.

The architects said: “Home is not a place, it’s a feeling. People are connected to their homeland. Growing up in an environment with family and friends fuels people’s souls with a promising future. But being forced out [of homes] due to starvation, the economy, or even politics starts to create insecurity.

“Twenty people are newly displaced every minute of the day, that becomes a challenge to provide a stable community which copes with these rapid changes.”

The team highlighted the issue in two countries, Syria, where more than half the population was displaced either across borders or within their own country of Egypt last year, and South Sudan , where the refugee population swelled from 854,100 to more than 1.4 million during the second half of 2016. The majority of these are children.

The architects were highly commended for their Sheltainer project at the 2017 Middle East Architect Awards.