City of Sanctuary volunteers and a member of staff joined Susie Rumbold the President of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) at De Montfort University (DMU) to judge an exclusive student design competition.
Four university teams were given a top secret brief which focused on the global refugee crisis and the urgent need for temporary accommodation across the UK. The brief challenged the competing teams to redesign a space in De Montfort University’s School of Art and Design, as temporary refugee accommodation for 60 people.
Students were asked to consider the space, taking into account its multi-functional use, as a place for residents of all ages to sleep, eat, study, pray and spend leisure time in, as well as create private areas for confidential meetings with healthcare providers, solicitors or other advisors.
The students had just six hours to develop a proposal, before presenting their designs to the judging panel. The challenging competition was completely CAD-free, forcing students from DMU, Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Lincoln to hand-draw all sketches, drawings and models.
The City of Sanctuary team brought their expert experiences to the judging panel. Mark Salama, an architect who ran a firm in Egypt, used his architectural and engineering experience as well as his cultural background to inform the judging panel’s decision. Malka Al Haddad, artist, academic, feminist and human rights activist from Iraq cast a design eye and female perspective and Colleen Molloy (CoS National Development Officer) used her knowledge of NASS housing issues to support the overall decision.
Hayley McLennan, Learning and Events Executive at BIID said they were honoured to be supported by refugees with so much experience to bring to the challenge.
The panel was blown away by the students’ thoughtful approach to the humane needs of accommodating individuals, couples and family groups in a confined space and take account of comfort, culture, privacy and confidentiality and social issues. All students had the chance to flex their creativity and develop key problem-solving and team-working skills. Each student group had at least one impressive design feature that was outstanding and could be successfully used, should the need to accommodate so many people quickly in a limited space become a reality. The top award went to the University of Hertfordshire’s team whose design took account of all needs, made the best use of space and had clever features including modular rooms for confidential meetings, geometric tables that could be flexibly used in a variety of ways and sleeping quarters that provided privacy for women and family groups.
Both Mark and Malka had a positive experience of being valued and honoured for their expertise and opinions by BIID. Colleen took the opportunity of educating the students about the painful realities of the asylum process and provided information leaflets, including the promotion of the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) network.