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Somalia Urban Solution

Projects / Mixed use

Somalia Urban Solution

Project information


Client: The European Somalian Business Chamber

Project Date: 2013



Site Location: Mogadishu, Somalia

Project Status: Concept Design

Design Brief

Our brief has been to develop a project that meets short, medium and long term targets for housing but also maximises the opportunities for employment and the utilisation of local resources. By applying considered, joined up thinking between current emergency needs and future urban requirements we consider it possible to move from emergency to permanent streetscapes without wasted investment.


There are an estimated one million IDP's within Somalia that have been displaced by seeking shelter from cyclical drought and famine and an armed conflict that has lasted for over 20 years.

There is an urgent need to provide 

1. Shelter and accommodation

2. Food and water

3. Sanitation

4. Power

5. Opportunity for employment

All in a secure environment

Creating Permanent Solutions

If people are moved to land without access to irrigation water - they cannot grow any food and they stay dependent on had outs. The land without water is not inhabited and has low value to the city - and so provides convenient space but no facilities. The rehousing programme has to create permanent suburbs with irrigation water, drinking water, sanitation, and electricity as well as permanent shelter.

Temporary Accommodation Units 

1. Need replacing after 5 years - low durability and lightweight construction

2. They are very hot and uncomfortable to live in without expensive air conditioning

3. Do not form a permanent part of the fabric of the city 

4. Create jobs in another country not Somalia

5. They are not really suited to inter-generational family accupation

Emergency housing today as a permanent part of a city tomorrow




Single block dwelling


Secured primary access

The dwellings are arranged in secure quadrangles, each with 50 dwellings and the communal cooking, washing and toilet facilities are located at the centre of the quadrangles and easily

accessible for the residents.

In adjoining fields there will be space allocated to additional agriculture, livestock grazing and fruit tree - especially dates - orchards.

Urban Design

Single Block Strategy - 50units

Dwellings & Allotments

The basic housing unit proposed is a traditional earth sheltered terrace house, made of a galvanised steel tube covered with earth to insulate the accommodation and ensure comfortable internal temperatures.

Each dwelling has an allocation of a small plot of land within the courtyard for the growing of vegetables and the keeping of chickens and small animals within the secure environment.


Mosquito net prevents insects and allows natural ventilation

Cooking space

Traditional Earth Sheltered Housing

The dwellings are arranged in clusters around a secure inner courtyard in which is located communal cooking, washing and toilet facilities (separated for man and women). the homes fit together to form terraces. If steel security doors are fitted to each home - the residential courtyard provides protection from possible street violence. Defendable urban perimeter blocks enclosing irrigated allotments for food production.

Secure walls

The accommodation clusters and communal facilities are enclosed within a secure perimeter wall with the only entrances being through steel gates that will be under the surveillance of security guards.

Safe Streets

The whole development is designed to engender the community spirit of a village in a secure environment that also provides the means for residents  to help support themselves for food and obtain the opportunity for employment.


The vaults are made from galvanised steel tube covered with earth to insulate the accommodation and ensure comfortable internal temperatures. They are self supporting, enabling the team to build community buildings such as mosques.

The steel tubes and certain other key components are imported but otherwise are accommodation has been designed to optimise the use of local labour and provide employment, particularly for the IDP's themselves.

Gabion wall system

Construction Section

Double Dwellings

The dwellings' internal space is designed to provide the maximum space for sleeping places; accordingly the cooking, washing and toilet facilities are planned to be provided on a communal basis and not in the homes. (However, and outside unplumbed toilet is provided for each dwelling to avoid the residents being obliged to go to the communal facilities during the night). This allows a number of advantages besides cost saving - for instance, the communal waste from toilets will be processed and used as fertiliser for growing vegetables.

Area: 74.8 m2

(with an additional 1.5 metre overhang to provide an outside shaded area during the day)

LED strip for lighting 

Accommodation would be provided to over 6,000 persons, sleeping 18 per dwelling

Sanitation Pods

A special two storey containerised dry composting WC unit creates dry sterile fertiliser powder from human waste.

Ventilation for composting

Urine can be collected as a valuable source of nutrients and diluted with water to use as plant feed

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