LATEST NEWS

Why Germany’s Green Refugee Housing Is Turning Heads

Displaced migrants are not usually known for their hip pads. It’s a notion one German designer has turned on its head.

By Jeff Vasishta January 24, 2017

France and Germany, apparently, treat refugees from the Syrian conflict quite differently. The “Calais Jungle” received a lot of bad press, because of how horrible it was. Squalid and putrid as a third world shanty town, it was hard to imagine that such a place existed in the developed world, even if it was only makeshift living quarters. Thankfully, Germany has different ideas. In fact, one look at their state-of-the-art refugee housing may make most regular citizens want to buy a home for themselves.

A long way from the corrugated tin sheds, flapping tarps or wood huts which pass themselves off as housing to the needy and impoverished in some countries, Germany’s Werner Sobek and the company Aktivhaus recently completed a modular development for 200 Syrian refugees in the German town of Winnenden.

Related: Mayor De Blasio Breaks A 27-Year Record For The Most Affordable Housing Built In NYC

Sobek’s design is simplistic and cool. Light, eco-friendly wood in clean lines. The buildings are manufactured off-site and put together Lego style, thus saving costs. With the refugee situation influx and the eventual hope that they will be assimilated into the larger German society, the development needed the flexibility of being adaptable to other uses after the immediate housing crisis ends. All the housing units were installed from Aktivhaus’ 700 Series.

Other than wood, eco-friendly materials included airtight walls covered in larch, a tough timber, and insulation with hemp and wood fibers. One of the main goals in construction was to use recyclable materials with minimal concrete. The planet loving materials were extended to the windows which were sealed with rubber strips and not polyurethane foam which has a high toxicity.

Related: NYC Might Really Use This Resilient Home For All Seasons

Such is the construction that the architect estimates that the modules will last centuries rather than decades, if treated correctly. The refugees have considerably less time to make the best use of their stylish dwellings. The Winnenden development will be repurposed from refugee to social housing within three years.

The refugee crisis is, of course, a controversial topic, with certain countries such as Germany, and Turkey more willing to take in refugees than others. However, in the short term at least, the influx has proven to been a boon to many European economies. Turkey and Germany have seemingly benefitted from a cheap workforce and the new buildings that were constructed to house them.

Though the Turkish housing is not quite as stylish as those afforded to them in Germany, it is vast. “Container cities” have sprouted up to house thousands of displaced migrants. Converted from shipping containers and prefabricated housing units, like the German Activhaus, they have been quickly constructed to serve as cover from the wintery weather and can stretch over a hundreds of acres of land.

Turkey’s commitment to their Syrian neighbors cannot be overlooked. In 2015, the country spent $8 billion for the refugees, far more than the international aid. Their purposeful state-of-the art  camps in 25 different provinces were widely praised.

Although Turney’s container’s might not make it over to the US, Sobek’s cool Activhaus could surely make a welcome appearance in Williamsburg or Bushwick.

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

  • AGORAFY
    Avocado toasts are the reason why millennials can’t afford a home, says one Australian real estate developer. #AvocadoToast #Millennials https://goo.gl/TBCPnv
  • AGORAFY
    Five years on since Superstorm Sandy, Queens’ coastal peninsula is in the midst of a development boom. #Development #Rockaways https://goo.gl/BRKRrD
  • AGORAFY
    It turns out, renters can’t get enough of good ol’ no-doorman-no-frills apartments. Too bad developers aren’t building any. #Doorman #LuxuryRentals https://goo.gl/pdnbo6
The Housing Market In Shenzhen, The Silicon Valley of China, Slows In 2017
The city of Shenzhen has been on the real estate radar for quite some time. It is known as the Silicon Valley of China. Many…
Developers Jump Aboard The Trend To Revamp Transit Hubs And Remake Cities
Never has the often used marketing term, “close to transportation” been more important when attracting home buyers. These days it’s not just homes that are…
Millennials Are Fueling The Current Sizzling Real Estate Market
Ever wondered why the hosts of home improvement shows seem to be getting progressively younger, along with the fresh-faced couples getting their new properties made…
The Best Cities For Recent Grads To Rent – Without Blowing Their Entire Paycheck
What’s next post graduation? For most, the logical answer is to find a job. After the excitement of finishing your studies and the big celebration,…
Luxury Knows No Limit In Malaysia As A Deluge Of New Developments Hit The Market
The amount of newly constructed high-end real estate in Malaysia is almost as abundant as the lush vegetation which covers the tropical landscape. Despite vacant…
Don’t Call It A Commune – Upscale Co-Living Is Attracting Major Development
What may have once been referred to as a commune is today termed a co-living space. The big news that it’s not hippies with hemp…
It’s Official—New York Is Now The Most Expensive City In The World To Build
As if you didn’t already know, it’s expensive to build in New York City. Not just expensive but now officially the most expensive place in…
An Ultimate Destination For The Most Comprehensive Real Estate Data, Agorafy Prepares To Launch Nationwide
In the coming days, Agorafy will be entering a new chapter. It is the beginning of a new growth cycle in real estate technology with…

TOP 10