Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: Reyhanlı refugee shelter and community centre, Turkey

An open international ideas contest is being held for a temporary refugee shelter and a multicultural centre in Reyhanlı on the Turkish-Syrian border (Deadline: 10 October)

Open to students, recent graduates and design professionals – the free-to-enter Building 4 Humanity design competition seeks concepts to improve living conditions for refugees and locals in Reyhanlı which is located 52 kilometres west of Aleppo and has seen its population double as a result of the civil war.

Proposals for the 25,000m2 site on the town’s south west fringe should include a 5,000m2 temporary shelter structure capable of housing up to 400 refugees with special facilities for wounded elderly, war widows and orphans; and a 15,000m2 social and intercultural service centre intended to boost social inclusion and integration among Syrians and Turks living in the city.

Contest site: Reyhanlı

Contest site: Reyhanlı

Source: Image by Google Earth

Contest site: Reyhanlı

According to the brief: ‘Nearly 120,000 Syrians have settled in Reyhanlı under temporary protection. In view of the urgent needs for social inclusion and integration, this competition invites students to propose radical but applicable design ideas for transitional shelters that could be used for accommodating 400 Syrian settlers, particularly for the wounded elderly, war widows and orphans.

‘The professional category will need to consider, in addition to the requirements for the student category, combining the transitional shelters with another facility: a social and intercultural service centre with 15,000 square meters of indoor floor area. The centre should be proposed for both Turks and Syrians in order to meet both the communities’ needs and aspirations, serving as a foundation for the process of social inclusion and integration between Turks and Syrians.’

The town of Reyhanlı in eastern Turkey lies on the border with Syria and has witnessed a doubling of its population in recent years due to Syria’s ongoing civil war and the destruction of nearby Aleppo. Around 120,000 Syrians are estimated to have settled in Reyhanlı with many facing a dire situation lacking access to basic infrastructure.

Reyhanlı, Turkey

Reyhanlı, Turkey

Source: Image by Nicoleon

Reyhanlı, Turkey

The competition focuses on an undeveloped green field site on the south west fringes of the city situated close to existing parks, farms and a newly built regional hospital. Nearby recent incidents have included a car bomb which killed three and an explosion in a factory.

Proposals should feature both a residential shelter and a community centre intended to boost interaction between Reyhanlı’s incoming and existing communities. The competition is organized by Taiwan’s Alliance of Architectural Modernity, Shih Chien University’s Department of Architecture, and the official languages are English, Turkish and Arabic.

Participating teams are encouraged to team up with local firms to apply. Submissions should include three A1-size poster boards, a single A4-size description of the project, and one A4-page of the team information.

The overall professional winner, to be announced on 22 November will receive a $5,000 USD prize while a second prize of $3,000 USD and third prize of $1,000 USD will also be awarded. The overall student winner will meanwhile take home a $3,000 USD prize.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is at 23:59 (GMT+3) on 10 October

Contact details


View the competition website for more information

Q&A with Chiu Chen-Yu

The assistant professor at the department of architecture at Bilkent University discusses his ambitions for the competition

Chiu Chen-Yu

Chiu Chen-Yu

Chiu Chen-Yu

Why are you holding an international contest for transitional shelters on the Turkish-Syrian border?

Eight years since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the world today seems to have become indifferent to the plight of the refugees and the refugee crisis in Turkey. Social problems caused by the massive population movements over a short span of time, amid a lack of political will globally for creating a more stable world, appear to have been accepted by the world as the new norms.

In view of the context, this competition seeks to explore these important questions from the epicenter of the crisis – Reyhanli – the Turkish-Syrian border town that has absorbed millions of refugees over the years and is to be imminently flooded with another wave of refugees out of the escalating crisis in the Syrian province of Idlib. In fact, there have not been significant architecture interventions along the Turkish-Syrian border over the last eight years. Specifically, this competition seeks to raise global awareness about the problems relating to the refugee crisis, with a view to provoking humanitarian concerns and responses, stimulating a discourse on humanitarian architecture approaches, as well as reinvigorating the social role of architecture. It also seeks to serve an educational purpose by cultivating ethics and social responsibility among architects, designers and students, who in our view should focus on the people or places so often left behind by the fast-paced world.

This competition is generously sponsored by the Government and people of Taiwan – an island country that has confront the issues of refugees over the past six decades – as one of its many supportive efforts for Turkey over the past seven years.

What is your vision for the new architectural intervention in Reyhanli?

In our view, the ‘architecture’, as the result of proposed architectural intervention, should involve the people of Reyhanli in its design or production, instead of being a commercial ‘product’ that is so prevalent in today’s society. The ‘architecture’ should confer social benefits for improving the quality, equality and sustainability of life. In the context of Reyhanli, it should attempt to offer solutions to address the raft of social problems associated with the refugee crisis, including poverty, unemployment, shortage of water and electricity, a lack of infrastructure, insufficient public facilities for housing, health, education and recreation.

Refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey

Refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey

Source: Image by Voice of America News

Refugee camp in Suruc, Turkey

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We hope this competition would bring together ideas and solutions from architects, designers and students of all inclinations. Collaboration with a local team from Turkey is highly encouraged. Given the complexity and the pertinence of refugee problems, together with the competition’s intent in raising awareness about this crisis, a robust proposal would certain attract a great amount of the attention.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

The Syrian civil war may hopefully ease within the next five years. When that happens, the focus would turn on the reconstruction of Syria and repatriation of Syrians from Turkey. The proposed transitional shelters at Reyhanli could be the trial project for future post-disaster reconstruction of Syria, and a blueprint for future architecture interventions in similar time and circumstances.

Are there any other recent transitional shelter projects you have been impressed by?

Taiwanese architect HSIEH Ying-Chun, and his team Atelier–3, had constructed more than two thousand transitional shelters in Southeast Asia, in the past 20 years. Here are the five architectural principles guiding their humanitarian architecture projects:

1) Forming community-based cooperatives;

2) Reinforced lightweight gauge steel frame with post-and-bean system for quality, efficiency, and affordability of building construction;

3) Open system for adopting and submitting to nature and culture;

4) Single-line drawings for participatory design; and

5) Adoptable and affordable technology for collaborative construction.