Housing Solutions for Asylum Seekers: Competition Winners

An architectural competition titled From Border to Home was set out to find temporary housing solutions for the unprecedented flood of asylum seekers coming to Finland. The Museum of Finnish Architecture organized the competition in collaboration with the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA from October 19 to November 30, 2015.

From Border to Home received 93 valid entries from several countries. Competitors were asked to submit tangible solutions with a positive social impact and an option for longer-term living arrangements. The jury comprised architects as well as experts from the Ministry of the Interior, the Finnish Red Cross and the Finnish Refugee Council. The competition was anonymous and open to all entrants.

The submitted entries ranged from individual buildings to ideas embracing wide-ranging national issues and case-specific systemic solutions, from new buildings to repurposing of existing buildings, from practical housing solutions to digital platforms, from social solutions to technical ones.

The Museum of Finnish Architecture will showcase the winning entries in the Finnish Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Architecture Biennale in summer 2016 in cooperation with the Architecture Information Centre Finland.

The first prize was shared by 181081 (Germany),  Society lab (Italy) and We house refugees (Finland). Here are short presentations of the winning entries..

181081 (Germany)

Design team: Duy Tran, Lukas Beer, Ksenija Zdesar, Otto Beer

The proposal focuses on the repurposing vacant office space to meet the varying housing needs of asylum-seekers in the early stages after their arrival in the country.

The team proposes an online or mobile platform that can be used to locate and document empty office spaces. At first the space can be used as an emergency center. In the next stage the space becomes a protected area with a public ground floor that helps in integration (language school, office, cafe, library, etc.). At the final stage, the office building is converted into individual apartments.

Society Lab (Italy)

Design team: Cecilia Danieli, Omri Revesz, Mariana Riobom

Social Lab is a mobile service platform that connect asylum seekers with Finnish home owners. It requires no new building and is hence resource-efficient. The app not only offers a solution for finding housing but also for finding jobs, seeking language-learning opportunities and making community contacts.

We house refugees (Finland)

Design team: Milja Lindberg assisted by Christopher Erdman, A-Konsultit Oy Architects

The concept focuses on new housing development that aims to enable the construction of a wide variety of ‘offshoot’ housing in a way that challenges existing building codes.

An excerpt from the entry: “The idea for this proposal came from an existing concept that has raised interest in Europe over the past Autumn – to house refugees in our own homes. However, currently this can be a little tricky: you might have an extra room, but only one bathroom, for instance. This proposal suggests that this concept of sharing space and housing refugees is made more appealing to people by offering information and support, and, by embedding this opportunity to share more tightly into our built environment.”

You can find the design brief, background information, jury’s report, and material from the entries at http://www.mfa.fi/rajaltakotiin_eng.

The images of this article are from the press image site of the competition. The title image is from Society Lab.