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For more than 3 decades, Shigeru Ban has been known for his designs of homes for refugees and victims of disasters. The founder of the Voluntary Architects Network uses an innovative approach via recyclable materials like paper and cardboard.

UN-Habitat, an agency under the umbrella of the United Nations, is responsible for guiding the development of sustainable human settlements. It has signed an agreement with Ban to build 20,000 homes for refugees in Kolabeyei Refugee Settlement, Kenya. The settlement that has a maximum capacity of 45,000 inhabitants, is currently housing more than 37,000 refugees and the numbers are expected to escalate. With many shelters in the settlement starting to wear off already, there had to be a quick alternative. Alternative homes, designed by Ban, are low-priced, environmentally friendly, and can be easily sustained by inhabitants.

Courtesy of UN-Habitat

“The shelter designs have to comply with the national regulations for housing while responding in a responsible manner to local climatic conditions and challenges, providing replicable sustainable solutions to shelter,” explained Yuka Terada, UN-HABITAT Project Coordinator. “UN-HABITAT’s approaches are strongly participatory and the relevant county officers, as well as the representatives from refugee and host community, will have an input in the design process.”

20 prototype houses will be tested for viability first, and if proven successful, people will be displaced from their current locations in the settlement into these new homes.


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