Abstract

Empirical studies have shown that internal temperatures in refugee shelters are impacting morbidity, and possibly mortality. Within a displacement setting, solutions are often constrained by time, cost, material availability and local requirements. This often results in “deemed suitable” designs rather than optimal solutions. In this study, we ask which route is most appropriate to optimise thermal comfort: prototyping design improvements, which requires time but may not require significant domain expertise, or thermal modelling, which can be quickly carried out if there is expertise. In a unique experiment, a laboratory of 12 shelters, built in a desert refugee camp, was adapted by the refugees themselves with variants to improve thermal comfort. Thermal modelling and field results were compared. Prototyping, though requiring additional time, was found to offer several advantages over modelling: (a) it gives a more visceral answer, in that the agency staff and refugees can experience the improvement - this could be important as most people might not be able to relate to a numeric statement about temperature; (b) the difficulty of constructing variants can be compared; (c) the financial and time costs are identified accurately. This suggests that such prototyping experiments have great utility, conferring substantial advantages over computer-based modelling. Significantly, we show that simple adaptations can improve conditions by up to 6 °C, and that the skills exist in camps to complete such improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-45
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
Volume61
Early online date18 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Desert
  • Overheating
  • Refugee shelters
  • Thermal comfort
  • Thermal mass
  • Thermal modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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