The Netherlands held a competition to design new refugee housing. These are the winners.

In 2015, nearly 60,000 refugees arrived in the Netherlands needing a place to live.

The Netherlands is a small country, just more than half the size of West Virginia, so housing all of them was going to be a challenge. As the worldwide refugee crisis continues, innovative solutions are needed so that the people fleeing civil war and sectarian violence have a safe place to live.

Refugees arriving in the Netherlands in January 2016. Photo by Arie Kievit/AFP/Getty Images.


In this case, the solution involved, in part, opening up an old abandoned prison as temporary public housing. It was a less-than-ideal situation to say the least.

The country was determined to do better.

In January 2016, the Netherlands launched a design competition called "A Home Away From Home" in which entrants were tasked with designing temporary housing for refugees and disaster victims.

All of the winning designs rethought the idea of public housing, adding amenities and innovations to make the buildings more like fully functioning homes than simply a bed to sleep on.

The winners of the contest recently appeared on display in Amsterdam as part of Dutch Design Week and included things like solar power, water purification systems, and ingenious use of space and material.

Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

This Farmyard shelter is designed to transform vacant farmland into mini villages.

Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

The cube design of the Farmland means dozens can be stacked, placed together, and moved easily. The architects of this design imagined the miniature villages establishing a "DIY economy" with local towns.

Interior of the design. Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

Another designer created these styrofoam towers as perfect low-waste housing for refugees being processed at reception sites.

Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

They're insulated, waterproof, fire resistant, and very cost-efficient. They have all the amenities of an apartment — beds, a sink, a toilet, a shower, and a kitchen table — and can easily be rigged up with electricity.

Comfort City is one designer's solution for cities that don't have enough space to house a large number of refugees.

Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

Every part of the Comfort City design is modular and adaptable, meaning it can be easily constructed in empty industrial buildings — or even abandoned prisons — while providing the homey comfort that abandoned prisons tend to lack.

Then there were designs like this modern Solar Cabin that can actually generate revenue and electricity.

Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

Its solar paneled roof actually generates more energy than is needed to power the home, so the occupants can sell electricity back to the local grid to make a profit.

Interior of the Solar Cabin design. Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

And finally, this sleek cube design actually comes with a built-in water purifier.

Photo courtesy of A Home Away From Home.

The cubes are Finch Evolutionary Wooden Buildings and are portable, easy to construct, and run on solar-powered batteries. They also have a vacuum toilet system that recycles water on site, making the whole thing self-sufficient.

We're going to need more and more of this type of housing and way of thinking about the refugee crisis.

Home is a concept many of us take for granted, but it's not a small thing. It makes us feel safe, comfortable, and human.

The current refugee crisis hasn't showed signs of slowing down, and with climate change creating more and more dangerous weather systems, we're likely to see climate refugee numbers grow sharply. All of those people are going to need places to live. Innovative solutions like these help them to not only live, but live with dignity and opportunity.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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