.the competition
.about the competition
.the problem
.money raised

about the competition
Architecture provides shelter. Nowhere is the need for shelter more critical than in the war-torn region of Kosovo. Hundreds of thousands are now without a place to live. Their homes in ruins, the infrastructure of the region collapsed, the returning population needs immediate and highly dispersed temporary housing. The architects and designers of the world can help.

gutted house
© bbc news online
Architecture for Humanity is hosting an open competition to design transitional housing for the returning people of Kosovo. The competition's goal is to foster the development of housing methods that can relieve suffering and speed the transition back to a normal way of life.

The issues faced in this competition are not unique to Kosovo. Natural disasters and war all over the world destroy homes and force people to seek shelter while they rebuild. Concepts, techniques and materials that can help the Kosovars may very well help others somewhere else. In a world of high technology and abundant resources, the central challenge is the creation of emergency shelter when local technology has collapsed and the region's construction resources have been destroyed.

the problem
The people of Kosovo, like most people, have a strong commitment to their homes. As the various relief agencies working in the areapredicted, people are heading home at the first opportunity. Refugee style camps in Kosovo are not thought to be possible or

desirable. With the end of hostilities, three quarters of a million people or more are spreading out to towns, villages and farms all over Kosovo.
Once they have returned they are facing a multitude of conditions. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports 40 to 50% of houses are reduced to rubble. Mines and booby traps are widespread. Food is in short supply and water systems are often either destroyed or poisoned.Electricity is out in most places.
The immediate challenge is to shelter families until they can make their old homes habitable. To do so, the following design criteria should be taken into account:

Criterion #1: Shelter that lasts long enough to allow rebuilding of permanent homes.
The ability to rebuild permanent houses and towns will be determined by the availability of materials and the
bbc news online, june 15, 1999
existence of skills. The Kosovars are well skilled but the disruption of war makes the distribution of building materials and equipment problematic. Temporary housing may be needed for several years if conditions make rebuilding slow and difficult. How temporary housing differs from permanent housing is a critical concept to this competition.

Criterion #2: Shelter that is inexpensive.
Tens of thousands of units are needed quickly and the money available to Kosovo's reconstruction will have to cover an entire array of social needs. The competition for funds will be intense. The combination of speedy construction and limited money requires that the temporary housing solution be low cost.
Criterion #3: Shelter that can be built quickly.

© bbc news online
Shelter needs to be in place quickly. The returnees are coming back to severe physical conditions in the best of weather. Water supplies may be destroyed; sanitary conditions may be a problem; the possibilities for injury and sickness are unlimited. Their most vulnerable period is that just after return. Later on there will be the demands of surviving the approaching winter. Temporary shelter needs to be delivered quickly.

Criterion #4 : Shelter that can be built by the local builders.
Because the shelters are dispersed and are needed quickly, they should be built by those who will live in them. The local building trades have the skills to build if the technology demands are low. Construction of the temporary shelters and then the rebuilding of homes is also an effective employment program to reconstruct Kosovo society.
Criterion #5: Shelter that can be built in many dispersed locations.
The returnees are dispersing all over Kosovo. Aid will not be focused to a few delivery points.
© bbc news online
Even winterization kits, the blue plastic sheeting and sticks that represent the first rung of emergency shelter relief, will be a challenge to distribute over the entire war ravaged province. Some people are returning to towns and villages. For them there is the possibility of some level of collective temporary shelter. Those going back to farms are also often in small groups and they too could use a collective shelter. A temporary shelter solution will have to be usable in a broad set of locations.

Criterion #6: Shelter that keeps people healthy and strong.
Ultimately, the temporary shelter must keep people dry, warm and sanitary. [top]

Steven Holl F.A.I.A. - Steven Holl Architects
Bianca Jagger - Human rights advocate
Elise Storck - United States Agency for Intern'l Development
Herb Sturz - Open Society Institute
Billie Tsien A.I.A. - Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Assoc.
Tod Williams F.A.I.A. - Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Assoc.

The winning entries were announced at an exhibit held at the Van Alen Institute in New York City during November 1999. Ten winners and 20 notable entries were selected by the jury. The exhibition traveled to the R.I.B.A. Gallery in London and I.F.A. in Paris. Click here to see winning entries.[top]

We wish to thank the sponsors who have contributed their services and advice to make this competition possible:

Supporting Sponsors

British Broadcasting Corporation
Lauster Radu Architects
French Institute of Architecture
Royal Institute of British Architects
United States Agency for International Development
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Van Alen Institute
War Child
Individual Sponsors
David Kuhn
Heather Harding La Garde
Cameron Sinclair
Kate Stohr
All proceeds from this competition beyond administrative costs were donated to War Child USA and used for relief work in Kosovo, Albania, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Including money raised by The Guardian Newspapers campaign, a total of $80,000 was donated ($5000 directly from submissions entries).[top]