An open international ideas contest has been launched to design prototype pop-up shelters and infrastructure for refugees returning to post-Isis Mosul in Iraq (Deadline: 6 December)
Open to all architects and architecture students, the competition seeks proposals for temporary shelters and facilities urgently required by Mosul’s former residents as they return to rebuild their lives following the city’s liberation from Isis.
The call for ideas – organised by Archstorming – aims to deliver new provisional infrastructure on the banks of the Tigris River to shelter all the refugees who wish to return to Mosul while their homes are being rebuilt and the city’s living conditions restored.
According to the brief: ‘Architecture has found a strange and unexpected enemy in Isis, which has destroyed and looted countless religious buildings, monuments, archaeological sites and works of art from different cultures and religions, most of them considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
For this reason, Archstorming has chosen Mosul to place its new project in an attempt to propose solutions that mitigate and alleviate the suffering of its population. The infrastructure is considered as a temporary solution that seeks to receive refugees in a humanitarian emergency and return them as citizens integrated into society.’
Mosul is around 400 kilometres north of Baghdad, on the west bank of the River Tigris opposite the ancient Assyrian City of Nineveh. Dating back to 6000 BC, Nineveh was thought to be the largest city in the world when it was abandoned in 612 BC.
Around 500,000 people fled Mosul following Isis’s invasion, and up to 75 per cent of the city’s government and civic infrastructure has now been destroyed. Despite being fully liberated from Isis in May, large areas of the city still remain uninhabitable and basic living infrastructure remains not up to standards.
The contest focuses on two separate issues, the first being to provide urgent humanitarian aid to newly arrived returnees. For this programme, proposals should provide temporary spaces for family registration and reunification, health and wellbeing centres, housing, storage, canteens and social areas.
The second part of the competition focuses on the creation of a city reintegration zone where returnees begin to build a secure future for their families following processing in the humanitarian aid area. Proposals for this area will need to include family housing, schools, medical centres, a market and a civic centre.
Mosul refugee housing solution by Weston Williamson + Partners
Earlier this year, Iraqi architectural awards initiative Tamayouz launched a separate ideas contest to design housing for refugees returning to Mosul. The competition was won by Anna Otlik from Wroclaw in Poland, while London’s Weston Williamson + Partners received an honourable mention (pictured).
The latest contest is open to everyone over the age of 18, with teams of up to four members permitted – including members with expertise outside of architecture.
Judges include Zaha Hadid Architects director Charles Walker, Amro Sallam of Architects for Society and Corinne Gray from UN Refugee Agency.
The overall winner, due to be announced on 20 December, will be awarded a €4,000 top prize. There will also be a second prize of €1,000, third prize of €500 and a public choice prize of €200, along with 10 honourable mentions.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is 6 December
Maidan Tent case study: Q&A with Leo Bettini
The associate at ABVM discusses lessons learned designing a temporary space for refugee camps
How will the Maidan Tent deliver a vital social space for refugee communities?
The Maidan tent (Maidan, which in Arab means square) delivers social space in refugee and makeshift camps by concentrating in one single dedicated structure all those activities that can help people to interact. Every city or urban settlement has a dedicated space, a square, a souk or bazaar, in which people can come together to socialise, conduct business or just spend their free time. Refugee and makeshift camps are no different. We want to provide an open and flexible space that can host all kind of activities, all together or separated, depending on the needs.
Maidan Tent by ABVM
Which architectural, material, sustainable and other methods did you harness in your design?
Because emergencies can be resolved in months or last for years, the tent is designed to be easily installed and disassembled making it useful for a short period of time but it can also become permanent and last for up to 10 years. We put a lot of attention into the selection of the materials considering durability and strength in harsh climate conditions as well as their resistance to wind and fire. Keeping in mind costs and easiness of transportation, we selected long-lasting materials that do not require much maintenance, reducing the need of replacement and so cutting waste.
Maidan Tent by ABVM
What advice would you have to contest participants on designing much-needed community spaces for refugee communities?
We advise participants to take into consideration both the physical and cultural context in which they are designing. For example, include a certain degree of flexibility, allowing the users to simultaneously but separately use the space. Consider climate conditions and how to provide sufficient lighting and ventilation, keeping the space comfortable during both warm days and cold nights. Last but not least, we cannot forget the psychological trauma that refugees have experienced, so we would advise designing a space that is welcoming, easy to adapt and that can quickly become recognisable as a symbol of hope.
Maidan Tent by ABVM
Q&A with Javier Pulido
The co-founder of Archstorming discuss his ambitions for the contest
Why are your holding a competition for post-war structures in Mosul?
From the Archstorming team, we want to focus our competitions on projects of social and humanitarian interest, providing solutions from architecture to situations of vulnerability. In Mosul Postwar Camp, we wanted to reflect the dramatic situation faced by all the returnees after the end of the fighting between the Iraqi army and Isis. These people have suffered the violence of war and, in addition, have lost their home and all their belongings. Unfortunately, once the war is over, the media lose interest in its consequences. For this reason, we considered it important to launch a new contest, not only to draw attention to the human drama that takes place in this area of the world, but also to commit the whole international community.
What is your vision for the new structures?
The new structures should be, above all, very functional. We would like them to be a temporary solution to receive refugees in a humanitarian emergency and return them as citizens integrated into society. Archstorming pictures this concept in two different areas. The first, named Urgent Humanitarian Aid, would be thought for receiving and caring the newly arrived returnees. The second area, called City Reintegration Zone, aims to reintegrate refugees into society after years of uprooting and will seek to secure a future for families. It should be provided with individual housing for each family unit, area for the education of minors and for the professional training of adults, green areas, market, etc. We leave open to contestants to decide how big the infrastructure should be, and whether they want it to be just temporary or a permanent construction.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
Archstorming was born to show the world how architecture can help all sort of problems. Considering this, we are happy to receive submissions not only from architecture students and professionals, but also teams formed by people from all sort of fields (engineers, designers, photographers…). This kind of competition provides an opportunity to students and smaller emerging practices to show their talent to the world. Participants will have the chance to make a name for themselves since they will gain wide media exposure and the recognition of our prestigious jury team, led this time by Charles Walker, director at Zaha Hadid Architects.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
We want our future contests to maintain the social and humanitarian focus that defines our current projects. For that reason, the Archstorming Team is always paying attention to vulnerability situations that can appear all around the world and that could have a solution from architecture. Some of our future competitions will be related to solutions for natural disasters or a redefinition of the current way of building humanitarian structures in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are also working with government institutions in order to create competitions that could someday be actually built.
Are there any other refugee shelter projects you have been impressed by?
We have always admired the work of two architect’s offices: Emergent Vernacular Architecture (based in London, UK), and Architects for Society (based in Minneapolis, USA). Luckily, both are on our jury team represented by Andrea Panizzo (founder of EVA) and Amro Sallam (founder of AFS). One conceptual project that inspired us is HEX HOUSE by Architects for Society, for catastrophic events and refugee displacements.