German students design residences for refugees

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Architecture students at the University of Hannover have designed a series of housing models for refugees. The project aims to create new refugee camps in the city by using spaces left empty. This model shows how surfaces on flat roofs can be used. They plan to actually build this design on the roof of their faculty. Their other ideas are just fiction - for now.

Floating houses

About 870 barges currently aren't in use in Germany. They could be converted into floating refugee centers. The water from the river could be processed through filter systems and used in the housing modules on the barges. Electricity for the structures would be provided by solar and wind power.

Remains of Expo 2000

The Dutch pavilion from Expo 2000 has been empty since the end of the world fair held in Hannover. It could potentially be expanded and turned into a refugee camp. The open garden on the third floor provides a good connection between the residential and leisure areas. All concepts include common areas and spaces where people can meet.

Filling the gaps

These prefab housing modules made of wood can be individualized and easily adapted to any vacant lot - and there are many in Germany. They can be built within just a few days and can quickly be taken down or converted into offices whenever they are no longer needed.

Multicultural allotments

In Germany, small parcels of land are rented to gardeners, and these are usually equipped with small houses. The students of the Leibnitz University suggested that some of these garden houses could be used for refugees. The gardens also have the advantage of providing food and a relaxing hobby for the refugees.

Parking lots

Cities have many underutilized car parks. They could be converted into refugee camps in the middle of the city. According to this concept, the lower level of the parking garage can still be used for cars.

A different kind of mobile home

An old freight station in the northern part of Hannover has been empty for years. There would be enough space for refugees here. The architecture students came up with the idea of housing the refugees in disused wagons. There are vacant stations in every big city which could apply this concept.

Tents, containers and gyms - they are all commonly utilized for refugee accommodation, but are unsatisfactory according to a group of student architects. In response they have designed a range of creative alternatives.

Cities such as Cologne, Munich, Hamburg and Berlin are often considered busy and densely populated. However, it doesn't take long to find an abundance of empty buildings and vacant lots - valuable space which could be utilized to help house refugees, according to architecture students at Hannover's Leibniz University.

Germany | 05.09.2015

"Fill the Gap" is, as its name implies, a project aimed at offering pragmatic solutions to refugee housing needs in Germany - without the use of tents or corrugated shipping containers. The students have created a number of designs, including ones which could easily be built on abandoned lots. They are living modules made of timber which can be constructed within one week and house up to 40 refugees over five or six levels.

"Timber also creates a more comfortable living environment than previously-used metal boxes," architect Jörg Friedrich says. The professor at the Institute of Design at Leibniz University calls for welcoming and comfortable architecture for refugees in Germany.

Friedrich initially tasked his students with finding suitable housing solutions for 2,500 refugees in urban spaces in Hannover, with no more than 50 people per dwelling - consulting with psychologists, anthropologists and conflict experts.

The project was then expanded to include designs for floating barges, apartment rooftops, flat-pack housing, and abandoned buildings across Germany.

Germany is expecting to take in 800,000 refugees in 2015.

"Refugees Welcome - Concepts for Suitable Architecture" by Jörg Friedrich, Simon Takasaki, Peter Haslinger, Oliver Thiedmann and Christoph Borchers was published in July 2015.