When we first presented the solar-powered woven refugee shelters that have now been seen all across the world, many people suggested they’d also make great festival tents. Well, now we’re wondering the opposite. Could these B-and-Bee shelters designed for Belgium festivals provide temporary housing for refugees in the Middle East?
The answer is probably not. And here’s why.
Refugee shelters need to be super lightweight, cheap, and easy to transport. They also need to provide security – women and children are particularly vulnerable in sprawling refugee camps. In fact, major humanitarian aid organizations have published long lists of criteria that need to be observed in order for a structure to fit their needs.
So from this perspective, the stackable honeycomb hives are only barely suitable. They’re not very lightweight, parts have to be assembled with a crane, according to Dezeen, and they aren’t very secure. Festivals are by nature social events, so one goes there expecting to keep their social environment open and flexible.
In a situation where hundreds or thousands of people have unwillingly come together because of political or environmental situations outside of their control, however, every person is desperate for some peace, quiet, and privacy – even though these things seem to be scarce at present.
The last thing they need is to have someone stomping up and down the metal stairs in front of their tiny cells.
Granted, the cells are very spacious – each has a king-sized bed. And they’re flexible, well-lit, and well-ventilated, which are also essential ingredients for refugee housing. So major score there. Plus the larch wood-clad cubbies have light and lockers.
The fact that the bed can be used as a couch – the idea being that small groups of people can get together even apart from the action – will be less attractive to aid organizations or refugees than young festival goers. Seriously though, this is great, thoughtful design.
Compaan and Labeur first entered their conceptual Honeycomb Hotel into an innovation competition that they went on to win. The inventors Inventors Barbara Vanthorre and Ron Hermans then hooked up with Achilles Design and One Small Step to transform the original concept into something appropriate for festivals.
In order to do that, they did a great deal of research not only to determine the needs of festival organizers, but also to get a sense of what would best fit the needs and desires of a crowd of fun-loving revelers. This is especially geared towards the crowd that aren’t so much into tents.
There is a serious element to the design as well. The cells create job opportunities for people in Belgium who could really use some. Who knows? Perhaps when the group scale up production of their prototypes, six of which were recently tested at the Gentse Feesten in Belgium.