Students in a graduate architecture studio at Texas A&M are developing solutions aimed at improving the quality of life for long-term inhabitants of refugee camps located in Chad, Kenya and Thailand. Their initial work on the projects, videos illustrating the plight of the beleaguered refugees, was featured alongside projects by designers from around the world Oct. 18-20 as part of an exhibition staged at the Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel, Switzerland.
“The exhibition’s organizers challenged designers to reconsider how the architecture profession communicates complex issues,” said Peter Lang, associate professor of architecture and director of the graduate design studio. “With the exhibition’s other participants, our studio experimented with video to create more comprehensive messages than could typically be communicated through renderings or posters.”
The videos can be viewed below and in an online blog the students created to chronicle their research and solutions for the three refugee camps: Iridimi, in Chad, Dadaab, in Kenya, and Mai La, in Thailand.
“Since 2004, more than 20,000 refugees, half of them children, have fled from the genocide in Darfur to Iridimi,” said Alfred Sierra, one of Lang's students. The challenge, he said, is to "build a network of communication, knowledge, innovation and hope for the people of Iridimi, and the rest of the refugee camps.”
To that end, Lang said his students are creating proposals for housing prototypes particular to each camp, which will be reviewed by personnel from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees for possible consideration in future planning projects.