The problem of how to adequately and efficiently house the millions of refugees around the world is a daunting one. Refugee camps tend to be ramshackle places filled with tarps, tents and other makeshift shelters. And the numbers of refugees worldwide are growing — especially children. Good design can't change the reasons people flee their homeland — but if the architect and designer Abeer Seikaly has her way, it could make where they end up more tolerable.
Seikely, a Jordanian-Canadian now living in Amman, Jordan, has designed a temporary structure that could be the tent of the future. The project is called "Weaving a Home" and is based on the temporary huts of nomadic tribes. They're easy to assemble and disassemble, and can be used in a wide variety of climates and geographies.
The tents are made of durable plastic threads that are woven together almost like baskets. They're ultra-portable, but can also be fitted with necessities like water and drainage systems (there's even a water storage tank at the top). And the exteriors act as a solar-powered skin that make usable electricity for the tent's inhabitants.
"The movement of people across the earth led to the discovery of new territories as well as the creation of new communities among strangers forming towns, cities, and nations," Seikely writes on her website. "Navigating this duality between exploration and settlement, movement and stillness is a fundamental essence of what it means to be human."
The design is so persuasive, in fact, that it won a 2012 Lexus Design Award, a prestigious design competition organized by the website Designboom.
"This lightweight, mobile, structural fabric could potentially close the gap between need and desire as people metaphorically weave their lives back together, physically weaving their built environment into a place both new and familiar, transient and rooted, private and connected," she writes. "In this space, the refugees find a place to pause from their turbulent worlds, a place to weave the tapestry of their new lives. They weave their shelter into home."