Japanese architect to design 20,000 homes for refugees in Kenya

Shigeru Ban, the Tokyo architect known for his work with low-cost materials such as cardboard, and his development of shelters for disaster victims, has signed an agreement to design up to 20,000 homes for people in the Kalobeyei Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Shigeru said he got involved after hearing about the immense challenges facing humanitarian agencies in providing shelter to tens of thousands of refugees arriving in the area from countries such as South Sudan.

The architect visited the Kalobeyei settlement and met with refugees and the local community and looked at the existing structures housing thousands of displaced people, to help assess their needs.

Over 37,000 refugees, mainly from South Sudan and Somalia, are living in Kalobeyei.

Shigeru has previously completed shelter projects in Italy, Turkey and Nepal using basic materials like cardboard, wood, and beer crates.

The Kalobeyei Refugee Camp at present

He said: "The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants."

He also noted that it was important to him to learn about how local people construct and to transfer his knowledge and experience of providing disaster-related shelter.

The Kalobeyei Refugee Camp at present

The design will be tested on 20 shelters first, and if successful will be rolled out to replace existing structures. County officers and representatives from the refugee and host community will have an input in the design process.

Images courtesy of The UN Refugee Agency

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