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.

More

Brace yourselves, folks, because this is almost too friggin' adorable to handle.

A 911 call can be a scary thing, and an emergency call from a dad having chest pains and trouble breathing is no exception. But thankfully, an exchange between that dad's 5-year-old daughter and 911 dispatcher Jason Bonham turned out to be more humor than horror. If you missed hearing the recording that has repeatedly gone viral since 2010, you have to hear it now. It's perfectly timeless.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Image by Brent Connelly from Pixabay and sixthformpoet / Twitter

Twitter user Matt, who goes by the name @SixthFormPoet, shared a dark love story on Twitter that's been read by nearly 600,000 people. It starts in a graveyard and feels like it could be the premise for a Tim Burton film.

While it's hard to verify whether the story is true, Matt insists that it's real, so we'll believe him.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Can the teens do literally anything without being blasted? Apparently not...

Katie Cornetti and Marissa Bordas, two Pittsburgh teens, were involved in a car crash. After taking a sharp turn on a winding road, the car flipped twice, then landed on its side. The girls said later on that they weren't on their phones at the time. The cause of the crash was because the tires on Bordas' car were mounted improperly.

The girls were wearing their seatbelts and were fine, aside from a few bruises. However, they were trapped in the car for about 20 minutes, so to pass the time while they waited for help, they decided to make a TikTok video. They made sure they were totally fine before they started recording.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Approximately 10% of the population is left-handed, and the balance between lefties and righties has been the same for almost 5,000 years. People used to believe that left-handed people were evil or unlucky. The word "sinister" is even derived from the Latin word for "left."

In modern times, the bias against lefties for being different is more benign – spiral notebooks are a torture device, and ink gets on their hands like a scarlet letter. Now, a new study conducted at the University of Oxford and published in Brain is giving left-handers some good news. While left-handers have been struggling with tools meant for right-handers all these years, it turns out, they actually possess superior verbal skills.

Researchers looked at the DNA of 400,000 people in the U.K. from a volunteer bank. Of those 400,000 people, 38,332 were southpaws. Scientists were able to find the differences in genes between lefties and righties, and that these genetic variants resulted in a difference in brain structure, too. "It tells us for the first time that handedness has a genetic component," Gwenaëlle Douaud, joint senior author of the study and a fellow at Oxford's Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, told the BBC.

Keep Reading Show less
popular