SHELTER & SUSTENANCE

SPATIAL EXPERIENCE

Architecture must seek to create structure in life for those who have none. This refugee housing will provide stability: both a physical structure of refuge, and a social structure to generate sustenance through the cultivation of rice. Residents enter onto a slatted wooden platform which flows into the stairways leading down into the bedroom or up the cultivation tower and kitchen. Rain water is caught in the rooftop cistern and is then used to rinse the harvest before it descends to the threshing level. The stalks are beat against the slats of the building to manually remove the grain from the lighter stalks, which are then carried away with the wind. The rice then funnels through the drying and milling process before reaching storage in the basement. Residents can descend below the paddies into the basement, where a humidity regulator maintains appropriate storage conditions until the rice is cooked or sold. Live within the house is centered around the movement of rice – stairways wrap around the exterior of the building as the rice descends through the various production stages from within. 

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Partis

Compositional inspiration arose from the chimera drawings, while formal and material inspiration derived from the layered and ordered stacking of the surrounding rice paddies. This rhythm is reinforced through a system of stackedmodel making. During this process, splintered portions and imperfections provoked the translation of a massing model into a slatted architectural form generating the movement of people, rice, rain, wind, and light. 

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Environment

This is a house of integration and penetration – integration into the landscape with simultaneous penetration and protection from the environment. During the day, rays of light sweep across the house as the sun moves across the sky. At night,
the structure glows from within as a beacon of hope for the refugees. In the same way that rice enters the building and gets dispersed throughout the various processes, the order of the building itself reaches out and becomes embedded in the landscape. The structure is elevated above the rice paddies to keep residents dry and devoid of mud. Water drains easily through the slats to avoid flooding during the rainy monsoon season while allowing a gentle breeze to naturally ventilate the space during humid summers. The slatted wood provides surfaces for the manual threshing of rice to remove the grain from the stalk, which then blows away in the wind. 

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Materials

The main structure is constructed of board form concrete, while the stairs and bedroom utilize slats of engineered local bamboo. The bedroom is fully enclosed – as glass windows fill in the spaces between the wood slats. 

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NARRATIVE

The Rohingya are a minority group in Myanmar primarily living in Rakhine State. The Myanmar government has denied the Rohingya citizenship and proceeded in a gruesome form of ethnic cleansing through “systematic murder, rape, and burning,” according to Amnesty International. Refugees began fleeing from Myanmar to bordering Bangladesh in late August. 10,333 Rohingya refugees arrive in Bangladesh every day, sixty percent of which are children. Almost 900,000 Rohingya have fled; the UN describes the latest escape as “the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis” and “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Refugees are seeking to make the dangerous journey, trudging through muddy rice paddies, to Balukhali, Bangladesh where camps are overflowing and crawling with disease.