Name: Iffah Khairani Bte Muhd Dzaki

Student ID: 1001236

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Title: A Nation for Refugees


Proposed mentor, second choice mentor

1st Choice Mentor: Christine Yogiaman

2nd Choice Mentor: Eva Castro

Project outline (1000 words)


Topic introduction


According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), there are currently sixty million people who are qualifies as ‘victims of forced displacement’, with some being forced out of their country of origin while others are being internally displaced within the country. Those that crossed borders to seek asylum in other countries, find themselves in marginal zones and transit camps, experiencing uncertain relationships to the laws in both states that expelled them as well as those that have accepted them.


These ‘transitional’ refugee camps are built to be temporary, no longer than a few years, meeting only the most basic necessities to ensure the survival of the refugees. However, in reality, these camps can last for an average of 8 years. Unfortunately, the nature of these camps remain temporal, often with degrading conditions such as high incidence of infectious diseases as the population of these asylum seekers continues to rapidly increase, leading to overcrowding.


To cope with the rapid growth of displaced people, the master planning and infrastructure of these camps are done in the quickest and impromptu manner but not necessarily well-planned. As a result, amenities such as communal space, schools, markets and green space that is essential is spaces for living tend to be overlooked and not planned for. This leaves the refugees in a state of limbo and unable to add value to their lives.


Overview of issues


The 1951 Refugee Convention defined a refugee as someone who “…owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

A refugee, in laymen’s terms, is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war persecution, or natural disaster.

There are two types of refugees, people who internally displaced within their country and those that are displaced out of their country of origin. For the latter group of refugees, these people will become stateless, as they lose rights to their home and do not gain citizenship in another country. The decision to make this journey can lead one to different types of environments.


The first environment would be self-refuge. This includes cross border points, informal campgrounds, grey zones and squats. These spaces are seen as hiding places with provisional shelters. Most are illegal sites of waiting or resting between two border posts. They tend to be very informal, and are unclassifiable from the standpoint of national and international humanitarian and governmental organizations. Such places are often unstable because there is no aide available other than what individuals have brought with them.

The other environment are spaces of confinement such as refugee camps, and UNHCR settlements. These spaces usually located further away from the borders. The access in and out is supervised because the refugees are not legal residents of the country. Camps are interesting because they start out as temporary solutions, but as time passes, gradual improvements are made. These improvements often include the addition of roads, systems of water, latrines, septic tanks and public buildings such as clinics and schools. In the case of a refugee emergency, there are some advantages to a planned camp. Services can be provided to a large group of people in a centralized and efficient way. Because the population is in one place, it is easier to identify and communicate with the entire population.

The existence of these camps is paradoxical because refugee camps, which are conceived as temporary, become permanent. Over time, the camp is transformed because the occupants appropriate it to be able to live in it. In this thesis, I will explore this paradox and how one can plan for the changes the built environment could go through from spaces (camps) built for both temporariness and permanence. Camps that would accommodate unintended change to permanence.


Goals and aims of the research and potential for architecture/building


Given the volatile nature of refugee camps, I am interested in how can refugee camps, in its temporal nature, be able to instil a sense of permanence and security for these refugees who are looking to reclaim their humanity through a new social space that comes about through collective action. In this thesis, the concept of planned refugee camps and what a camp would be like if the planning takes into account the permanent nature of such settlements will be explored.  


Through this thesis, I will establish a process or method that brings about a new way of thinking about the problem of displacement by providing a counter proposal to what already exists, one that allows camps to become more efficient and resilient through the case of infrastructure that is flexible, constructing spaces for movement, business and consumption. Redefining what it means to be a refugee by providing a safe haven in between the host country and country in conflict. Transforming these line of spaces into an active space that is constantly shifting to accommodate to population, cultural and socioeconomic changes.




Examples and references to existing similar/relevant work and research


1.       Zaataari, Jordan


September 2012                                             November 2012

January  2013                                                  February 2013


Changes of Camp Cluster in Zaatari Camp


Refugees have made alterations to the camps to suit their living habits



More Key References:

1.       Planning and Design for Future Informal Settlements: Shaping the Self-constructed City by Gouverneur, David. London: Routledge Earthscan, 2015. Print.


2.       Managing the Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government by Agier, Michel, and David Fernbach.  Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2011. Print.


3.       Instant City: Humanitarian Settlement as a New Urban Form by Anya Brickman Raredon


4.       Urban Systems of the Refugee Camp by Julia Slater


5.       Refugee Experience / Individual Survival to Community Engagement by Lubna Chaudhry;sequence=1


6.       The Next Jerusalem: Sharing the Divided City by Michael Sorkin. The Monacelli Press. New York. 2002.Print


7.       The Rohingya Crisis: Life in these Camps by Weiyi Cai and Simon Scarr.


8.       Transitional Settlement: Displaced Populations by Corsellis, T andVitale. Oxfam.Oxford. 2005. Print.


9.       Refugee Camp for Syrians in Jordan Evolves as a Do-It-Yourself City by Kimmelman M. 2014 . NYtimes. New York.


10.     Fifty Most Populous Refugee Camps by Esri.N. Maps, E, (2014)



Preliminary research plan for the next 13 weeks

Methodology for Research

–        Exploring Long Term Camps

–        Guidelines of UNHCR’s refugee shelter and layout planning

–        Factors that affect the change in refugee camps:

–        Cultural living habits of the people

–        Strategies in which inhabitants change the layout to make their own spaces

–        How camps can reduce dependence on host country

Term 9




Thesis Outline Proposal Submission














Mid Term Review












Thesis Prep Hand-In & Presentation