Re-Settle, Eindhoven

Re-settle, Eindhoven NL, Project Team: René van Zuuk , Athina Athiana, Wiola Gaura, Alberto Tonno, Design: 2016

The focal point of the Re-Settle project is to create a village environment with minimal resources, in which refugees can live safely and privately. The accommodating structures consist of detached, semi-detached, as well as connected units, and can be combined as desired. The units resemble hotel rooms, featuring a mezzanine with a bed, a wardrobe, a table with chairs, a toilet, a sink, and a shower. By using a start segment, an end segment, and adjusting the number of the intermediate segments, it is possible to fabricate a 1 person unit (15.0 m²), a 2 people unit (20.7 m²), and a family suite (26.5 m²) for 3 to 4 people. Every unit has the same interior module. If necessary, up to 59 units can be joined together, and form a cluster to house larger families and groups. Each cluster has its own communal hall, where the residents can eat together and engage in recreational activities. The units and the communal hall are linked through a slightly elevated walkway.

The question of privacy is the biggest issue when it comes to temporary accommodation. The asylum seekers need to have their own place which can be locked so that they can leave their belongings in a safe place. In other accommodation standards, people must constantly adapt to new residents, and cultures without a common language or any other reference points are forced to co-exist. Our type of housing offers the possibility of retiring to a private environment. It is up to the resident to seek human contact, a task not too difficult since people can easily meet up while cooking, eating, or relaxing in the communal living rooms.

The material out of which the units are made is Biofoam. Two years ago, the office developed a cutting method in which free forms can be cut out of a rectangular BioFoam block with minimal waste. Filament rings are cut with a computer-controlled hot wire cutter. The angle of the cut is chosen in such a way that all the rings are nested into each other. Therefore they are stackable, and one can build a tower. The advantage of this method is that it is possible to cut with a cutting line, both the inside of the underlying ring and the outside of the upper ring. The method provides a lot of freedom when shaping a form, it is very inexpensive and makes it possible to cut a unit from a foam block of 2.4x4.8x1m in just two hours.

With this proposal, we build on the experience we have gained from our previous projects. The design consists of a pressure arc where foam is used as the printing material and a tensile PVC tent film that envelops and waterproofs the pressure arc. The positioning and stacking of the foam rings are done by using wooden dowels. Elder rings are attached with velcro. On the inside, the fire retardant foam is finished with a soft fabric (fire blanket), also attached with velcro. With this procedure, no visible seams can be located on the structure.

BioFoam is produced with minimal use of resources. BioFoam is composed of only 4% biopolymers and 96% air. Since it is made only out of one material, it is 100% recyclable. It is also extremely cheap, without any dimension variations, nontoxic, and fireproof. It is impervious to moisture and has unique properties in terms of insulation.

The arc-shaped housing unit has a volume of 2.4x4.8x4.5m. Its lightweight makes it possible for six people to lift a unit, and for a standard lorry to carry six units simultaneously. Since the different materials can be separated with ease, the unit can easily be recycled. Foam and styrene can be melted in a mobile recycling machine since foam shrinks to only 4% of its original volume and can be transported easily. Consequently, the 59-unit cluster mentioned earlier can be delivered for recycling by just one truck.

In 2016, the Re-Settle pavilion took part in the ''A home away from home'' competition, a COA initiative in cooperation with the national architecture committee. Participants were required to provide innovative solutions to the fluctuating demand for housing for asylum seekers. Re-Settle was one of the six winning designs among 366 entries. A prototype (scale 1:1) was constructed for the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, in October. The jury praised the design for its innovative technology and materiality. Due to its easy manufacturing and low construction costs, it could serve as a potential solution to the emergent housing need. If the shelter is no longer needed, it can be stored or recycled.