There are more than six million refugees living in camps globally, primarily in places with severe climates. While camps are planned to be temporary, they can be in use for decades. This ‘planned temporariness’, despite their potential longevity, together with the pressures of rapidly emerging situations, means the construction and monitoring of demonstrators is not a primary concern for their developers. This lack of iterative design improvement results in shelters with thermal environments far from ideal and a risk of increased morbidity. Here we propose a cyclical process for improving such shelters involving the thermal monitoring of pre-existing shelters to construct validated baseline simulation models of similar shelters in other areas of emerging crisis. These models can then be evolved and improved within an optimization cycle before mass-construction and field testing. Here we demonstrate the method for the case of Azraq camp in Jordan. Starting from an analysis of field survey data which exposes a high incidence of heat-stress experienced in the shelters, a series of architectural strategies are applied to the design, resulting in significant reductions in overheating. This work suggests that the proposed cyclical approach can lead to significant improvement in conditions currently experienced in refugee camp shelters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-337
Number of pages11
JournalArchitectural Science Review
Issue number5
Early online date27 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Shelters
  • building simulation
  • cyclic design
  • overheating
  • passive architecture
  • thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture


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