Publication archive

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First publication from the project 'Thermal comfort in desert refugee camps: An interdisciplinary approach' by D. Albadra, M. Vellei, D. Coley and J. Hart has now been published in Building and Environment. You can access it here: 


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.

D. Albadra, D. Coley, J. Hart, RIBA President's Awards for Research 2017 Winner of the Annual Theme - Housing: Toward healthy housing for the displaced


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.