The Refugee Experience: Individual Survival to Community Engagement

Thumbnail Image


Publication or External Link





As the world population expands with no reduction in conflict, there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of refugees. With such a massive increase in refugees, it is important to review the built environment that people inhabit within refugee camps. In theory, refugee camps are built to be a temporary settlement, whether planned or impromptu it is meant to meet basic human needs for a short period of time. But in reality, these temporary settlements end up being populated for long periods of time, mimicking the physical organizations seen in small towns and cities. Such places should no longer be seen as short term transitional population centers but permanent settlements. In this thesis I will explored the long-term planning of refugee camps with a critical look at: how refugee camps evolve over time; the strategies people use to make these spaces their own as the camp evolves; whether camp plans relate to the cultural living patterns of the refugees; how camps might be planned to reduce dependence on the host country; and how the design of the camps might be guided by an understanding of these factors.

This thesis was explored through the lens of the Syrian Civil War and the refugees that it has unfortunately produced. Through the study of precedent camps, a cluster formation of shelter was observed. The thesis proposes to give refugees a plot of land as well as a shelter that is modifiable over time. The cluster formation of plots is used as module to create community spaces at all different scales.