Project Safe refuge: feeling at home elsewhere 

A mobile and provisional architecture for Ukrainian refugees: the idea of an international working group, with a Politecnico representation

 ‘When the war ends will you go back to Ukraine or do you plan to move permanently to another country? Will you take part in the reconstruction? What do you miss most? Where do you currently live? What do you want? Where do your children sleep? With how much luggage did you arrive in Poland?’. These are some questions in a housing questionnaire put to Ukrainian refugees in Poland by Project Safe Refuge, an international group of designers of transitional housing units designed for emergency contexts. The answers are used to create homes that are not impersonal but that welcome guests making them feel more at home in some way.  


The idea arose in March 2022, as Nadja Strikovic, architecture Alumnatells us: ‘I found out about the initiative on the LinkedIn page of Kika Zdziarska, a Polish student who studies in Delft, the Netherlands, and whom I had met when she was also attending a three-year degree at the Politecnico di Milano. Together with Kasia Antoszyk, another Polish student, she had just started working on this idea and so I joined them.

one on a research level, by contacting organizations similar to ours in the international arena, with a focus on Poland and Ukraine. The other line of research focuses on the technical and construction field, we are looking for companies and organizations that are willing to build our project on site, so as to avoid large costs of transporting materials and housing units, and also to speed up processes’.   

‘We are understanding if we can cover the costs in building the housing unit prototype: a basic module of about 33.5 metres by 67.5, corresponding to a minimum size that can then eventually be extended in length and height by adding other modules. This size allows us to accommodate a bathroom, kitchen and a space in front large enough for a sofa bed or two single beds or a double bed. We imagine it as a very flexible base with a structure made of OSB wood panels, insulated with local materials recovered from waste from local companies and businesses. The doors and windows will tend to be in PVC. We would like to achieve something that is not alien to the lives of refugees. Even if they will be temporary, we would like something in the furnishings and spaces to remind them of their original homes’.  

Currently, the group is trying to complete the development of a complete unit to be built possibly in Ukraine. They have launched crowdfunding to finance its success.

Read the full story in MAP issue 11 starting from December

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