The University of Bath has announced its latest international research project, Healthy Housing for the Displaced, could dramatically improve the conditions in refugee camps based in parts of the world experiencing temperature extremes.

“The extreme climates experienced by those living in refugee camps inspired me to propose this project”


Partnering with Princess Sumaya University for Technology (Jordan), German Jordanian University (Jordan) and Mersin University (Turkey), the 3-year research programme will see to the design of low-cost and easy to construct housing based on the outcomes of what will be the largest ever global study investigating thermal, air quality and social conditions in camps housing displaced people.

You can find out more about this research project from Lead Investigator and Professor of Low Carbon Design at the University of Bath, David Coley, in the video below:

David says: “In recognition of the immense variability in climatic, environmental and sociocultural conditions, we aim to develop a variety of shelter designs suited to specific locales and the needs of those people who have been displaced.

“I visited Jordan in 2015 year during a rock climbing trip and fell in love with the country and the people. The extreme climates experienced by those living in refugee camps inspired me to propose this project which will truly push the boundaries of my research into low-energy building design.”

Long-term solutions

Given the increasing impact war-torn parts of the world such as Syria are having on the numbers of displaced people worldwide, temporary housing solutions are becoming more and more permanent, with many existing for years or even decades. Often housing is sub-par for long term use, causing both mental and physical health problems for its inhabitants and thus increasing demands on humanitarian aid.

“Decent housing can make an immense difference”


As well as researching these complex issues, the funding for this project – from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – will enable the design of 20 possible shelters looking to solve issues surrounding social well-being, health and thermal comfort.

6 of these designs will then be constructed in the UK to test construction times and thermally tested in a climate chamber at the University’s Building Research Park in Swindon. The most promising of these designs will then be transported to Jordan to test in local conditions and obtain the feedback of camp occupants and aid agencies.

Camp research: Dr Dima Albadra shows recording equipment to young camp occupants


Co-investigator and Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Development at the University of Bath, Dr Jason Hart, comments: “Over the last 20 years I have worked as an anthropologist with refugees in Jordan and the wider Middle East.

“I have witnessed firsthand the daily struggles of displaced people to lead dignified lives in difficult conditions, and decent housing can make an immense difference.

“I am therefore excited to collaborate with colleagues from the fields of architecture and civil engineering in a process of shelter design that meaningfully engages the views and aspirations of refugees themselves.”

If you’re interested in supporting this project, you can get involved in the research directly by contacting the team on the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project website. You can also support the project by helping to spread the word via its Twitter page here: @hhftd_bath.