AR_EA 2015 Commended with Merit
Pilosio RE:BUILD is a redeployable building system which produces emergency shelters. It is designed and developed by Pilosio Building Peace, the non-profit organisation of Pilosio SpA, which convenes international businesses, governments, NGOs and individuals to develop projects with a strong social and cultural impact. RE:BUILD uses a simple and intuitive strategy to deploy structures that can quickly respond to the needs of areas devastated by war or natural disasters. It consists of temporary modular structures - which can be used as schools, clinics, among other functions, as local needs require - erected in refugee camps and other emergency situations.
The structures are made of elements readily found on-site (sand, earth, stones and gravel) as well as typical construction items and accessories, such as aluminium scaffolding tubes. The building system was developed by Pilosio SpA, an Italian company and world leader in the production, sale and rental of scaffolding as well as structures for entertainment, such as stages, grandstands and covered areas.
A square web of aluminium scaffolding tubes creates the structural frame of the building. Although this light transportable tectonic structure is what gives the character to the whole building, it is barely visible when the construction is completed. In fact, only the transversal supporting braces are not completely covered by the cladding elements and remain visible on the external walls.
The walls are created by assembling local materials and standard construction elements together. These are made by steel fences and metal nets filled in with gravel. The steel fence’s role is to assure the necessary rigidity of the structure and the metal net contains the shapeless filling material. Hemp fabric between steel fences and metal nets ensures the homogeneous density of gravel and helps to control humidity and temperature. Some vertical elements are also inserted into the gravel to ensure its uniform distribution. At the corners, where the sandwich would not be able to sustain the cladding material or would deteriorate more easily, bent metal nets are added over steel fencing and hemp.
For ventilation and light, a series of holes are made by horizontally inserting plastic and iron sewerage tubes in the walls, and space is left between the walls and the ceiling. The ceiling is realised with scaffolding platforms over which earth is laid to ensure maximum thermal insulation and, eventually, to grow micro crops. Below this canopy, a special container for channelling and recovering rainwater can also be positioned.
Above the circulation spaces, where the structure is less rigid, light yellow plywood I-beams support the covering elements. Easy to erect and assemble vertically, the I-beams also convey the internal distribution of spaces to the outside because of their height. A plywood floor is laid over a solid linear foundation, which is extremely durable thanks to its phenolic film protection.
The first realisations of Pilosio RE:BUILD are two square structures of 16m per side in the Syrian-refugee camps of Za’atari and Queen Rania Park in Amman, Jordan. In Za’atari, in a school built with this system using no electricity or water, that cost around €30,000 to construct, 120 students will be educated in shifts. Syrian refugees with no prior knowledge of construction have built this school. Only nine labourers, working six hours a day for two weeks, were necessary to complete one of them. The direct contribution of labourers in assembling the structure ensures that they once again feel in charge of their own destiny. They know how the elements of construction function and can therefore imagine how they can be used in the future.
The biggest advantage of the RE:BUILD system is the possibility of the almost complete reuse of the elements. Ideally these units become ‘equities’ and the community or families can redeploy the units as they return home. By reusing units, it is possible to save aid agencies, and at-risk governments, millions of dollars and stimulate local jobs. Reuse more than recycling is a key issue in situations of scarcity and emergency.
In September 2015, €1 million was collected for the construction of 30 more schools for Syrian refugees in Jordan and for the realisation of Hope Village in Somalia. Here, various structures are in an advanced stage of preparation for the construction of an entire area of a refugee camp, incorporating a school, a market, a residential area, a canteen and an information centre for the local community.
Project team: Pouya Khazaeli (Iran), Cameron Sinclair (UK)
Civil engineer: Federico Bortolussi