Publication archive

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1. Albadra, D., Vellei, M., Coley, D. and Hart, J. (2017) 'Thermal comfort in desert refugee camps: An interdisciplinary approach', Building and Environment vol. 124: 460-477. 


Long-term encampment is a growing aspect of a growing refugee crisis. There is hence the need to ensure shelters provide a safe and suitable environment. We present the first field study including social and thermal comfort surveys and physical measurements conducted in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, during summer and winter. This required the creation of a new Arabic thermal comfort survey based on the numerical ASHRAE scales to ensure the elimination of any ambiguities due to translating the scales. The three analysis methods used (linear, logistic and multiple logistic regression) all gave the same neutral temperature, 23 °C; however, Fanger's predicted mean vote model was found to underestimate the adaptive potential of the refugees. The comfort band found using logistic regression ranged from 28.4 °C to 17.2 °C, suggesting a significant adaptability of the refugees, but not one equal to the temperature range found on site. Issues with the clash between ventilation, privacy, security and sand ingress were identified, and this points to a need to re-evaluate shelter ventilation in general. However, given the extreme conditions recorded, natural cross ventilation alone will not be sufficient in achieving summer comfort. Combining this with the observation that, due to safety and lack of resource, the refugees have no means of heating at night, a shelter solution that successfully includes insulation, and possibly thermal mass would seem important.

2. Albadra, D., Coley, D. and Hart, J. (2018) RIBA President's Awards for Research 2017 Winner of the Annual Theme - Housing: 'Toward healthy housing for the displaced', The Journal of Architecture vol. 23 (1): 115-136.


The population of people living in temporary settlements after disasters is in the millions and the average stay in these settlements exceeds a decade. This paper reviews the literature on the design of post-disaster relief shelters in order to: establish the state of the art, identify trends and describe the academic activity of the past forty years. The analysis demonstrates that the academic engagement in this topic is limited, with fewer than sixty publications in the past four decades. Displacement camps are often situated in countries with extreme climates; however the issue of the thermal performance of shelters and their impact on health is found to be further overlooked. In an attempt to rebalance this situation, thermal surveys were conducted in two refugee camps in Jordan. The study found that the refugees were very unsatisfied with the thermal conditions in their shelters, particularly in summer. Internal surface temperatures of 46°C were recorded in September and indoor CO2 concentration levels of 2700ppm were measured in winter. In addition, this paper reported on the adaptation strategies used by refugees to cope with the heat and cold, and reported on their views on shelter design considerations and satisfaction.

3. Hart, J., Paszkiewicz, N. and Albadra, D. (2018) 'Shelter as Home: Syrian Home-making in Jordanian Refugee Camps', Human Organization, vol. 77 (4)


The lifespan of displacement camps around the globe is often measured in years or decades. Nevertheless, the establishment of camps to house people fleeing political violence is often framed as an emergency measure of limited duration. These are depicted as ‘temporary’ spaces in which people are provided with aid and support until such time that they are able to return to their ‘permanent’ homes.

In this article we focus on the actions and aspirations of camp residents to imbue their dwellings with a sense of home. Our empirical material has been generated by fieldwork in two camps in Jordan housing people displaced from Syria. ‘Home-making’ in this location calls into questions the rigid opposition between ‘temporary’ and ‘permanent’:  an opposition that, for diverse reasons, host states, donors, humanitarians and camp residents may strive to maintain, at least in rhetorical terms.

Attending to the creation of dedicated space for receiving guests, we consider the content of home-making as shaped by residents’ ideals of home in combination with the constraints imposed by institutions responsible for funding, hosting and management of the camps. While this analysis highlights the fragility and contingency of home-making it also reveals the agency of displaced people in acting to improve their surroundings and conduct normative social relations.


4. Fosas, D., Albadra, D., Natarajan, S., Coley, D. (2018) 'Refugee Housing Through Cyclic Design', Architectural Science Review


There are more than six million refugees living in camps globally, primarily in places with severe climates. While camps are planned to be temporary, they can be in use for decades. This ‘planned temporariness’, despite their potential longevity, together with the pressures of rapidly emerging situations, means the construction and monitoring of demonstrators is not a primary concern for their developers. This lack of iterative design improvement results in shelters with thermal environments far from ideal and a risk of increased morbidity. Here we propose a cyclical process for improving such shelters involving the thermal monitoring of pre-existing shelters to construct validated baseline simulation models of similar shelters in other areas of emerging crisis. These models can then be evolved and improved within an optimization cycle before mass-construction and field testing. Here we demonstrate the method for the case of Azraq camp in Jordan. Starting from an analysis of field survey data which exposes a high incidence of heat-stress experienced in the shelters, a series of architectural strategies are applied to the design, resulting in significant reductions in overheating. This work suggests that the proposed cyclical approach can lead to significant improvement in conditions currently experienced in refugee camp shelters.


5. Fosas, D., Albadra, D., Natarajan, S., Coley, D. (2017) 'Overheating and Health Risks in Refugee Shelters: Assessment and Relative Importance of Design Parameters', Passive Low Energy Architecture Conference contribution, Edinburgh, 3-5 July 2017


There are now more than four million refugees living in camps around the world. The majority of such camps are within inhospitable environments, often with extreme climates. This paper focuses on the thermal conditions of shelters in the Azraq refugee camp (Jordan), subject to an arid climate with high temperatures during the hot season. Due to political and other sensitivities, whole-, or multi-year monitoring of occupied shelters—and hence the empirical determination of overheating—is difficult. Instead, internal conditions in the shelters were monitored for three weeks in summer and used to validate computer models of the accommodation. These models were then used to generate annual predictions of overheating assessed through overheating criteria based on thermal discomfort and physiological indicators of heat stress. Building on these results, the performance of alternative designs specifications or shelter operation strategies were investigated through parametric analysis. The results show maximum indoor temperatures over 45°C. Overheating thresholds were exceeded for more than 20% of the year and physiological indicators suggest the possibility of health-threatening conditions. The use of alternative designs and strategies reduced overheating to nearly 2% of the year, with a steep reduction of severe heat stress indicators.