- Team members
- Thomas Jäger
- maker refugee camps empowerment workstation community lead
Home.Work enables people living in refugee camps to build/fix what is lacking in their daily lives.
The project was developed with the refugee community of camp Katsikas in Northern Greece based on their needs, and focuses on building participants' knowledge of basic DIY, delivering workshops that demonstrate how DIY can build community, and establishing a distribution system tailored to that community. The project is deployed to a site and – through the learning process – becomes entirely community-run.
Our main aims are:
● to reduce people’s dependency
● to activate peoples agency
● to create new communities
The Home.Work Station is a mobile toolbox that transforms into a workspace in three simple steps, and is filled with a variety of manual tools needed to create, fix and maintain a home.It is made from a mixture of materials including wooden parts, semis and cheap but stable wood. The wheels for example are semis but the feet for are 3D printed plastic. The production of the boxes is a mixture of classic craftwork and modern technologies, assembled with the users.
- Does your design take social and cultural challenges and human wellbeing into consideration?
In refugee camps, to have a leaky pipe fixed or a window sealed on your container requires a long wait for the camp handyman. Overworked, this person cannot respond quickly enough to the needs of thousands. During this period peoples living conditions deteriorate a lot. Through the deployment of Home.Work boxes, we remove a lot of work from the overwhelmed camp management, create opportunities for learning and give skilled and motivated refugees the tools to fix their own problems
In Katsikas, people know that if they need a tool or to have something fixed they can go to Taha, from Syria, who manages the Home.Work Station there. Each linguistic group in Katsikas camp can find a Home.Work Ambassador that speaks their language. These interactions facilitate community-building.
The needs of the people in refugee camps are very diverse, so the box is equipped with the tools needed for various uses. Instead of providing ready-made solutions, which often don’t fit the needs of the communities we work with, we try to give each group to shape how the Home.Work Project can work best for them.
The camp residents are the implementers of the Home.Work Project. Home.Work imparts sustainable solutions that are transferred from our team to our ambassadors and, through them, to the wider community. A community-lead project has higher potential of sustainability as it is left in the hands of the people who need it. For this to function, those hands must be well prepared.
We do this through a series of workshops, where the participants learn about the role of design in wellbeing; learn how to use hand-held tools to fix and build items that they need; learn how to teach others these skills; put those skills into practice through a design challenge that aims to improve their community, and collectively create a sharing system that encourages responsibility, accountability and fairness, while increasing access to all residents of the camp.
Once the project is up and running, we hold follow-up workshops to fine-tune skills in our Ambassadors and introduce the community to concepts that could facilitate their well-being such as the use of recyclables in craftsmanship and the collaborative concept of maker-spaces.
- Does your design use principles of distribution and open source?
The way the boxes including the tools get distributed is unique especially for the humanitarian context. By acknolwedging the capability of the users inside the camps, we let them take full ownership over the boxes. In this way there is no need for them to hesitate creating or fixing something. Nevertheless it brings two parties together on a table, which weren't before. The entity maintaining the camp and the community.
These parties are creating themselves an open source space in which they share their expertises, needs and accomplished projects.
All shelters are similar set up if one resident found a solution to an existing problem, it gets naturally shared with the entire community which then recreates and improves it.
Furthermore the boxes are build with the communities, so they understand the construction and their feeling of ownership increases. Every aspect of the final box design is developed in an open process between me and the communities. Incase during the building process a new idea comes up, the box gets modified. If this modification results after time in an improvement it gets adapted to the next boxes, which than can be further improved by the next community.
- Does your design promote awareness of responsible design and consumption?
Overwhelming consumption isn't a big topic in refugee camps anyway, but methods of responsible design consumption are well integrated in the project. Such as getting clarity on which products are really needed to live a secured and safe life and that this is the actual aim of consumption. Furthermore the method of prolonging the life cycle of products by reusing or fixing them.
This isn't just integrated in the basis of the project. It also promotes these approaches to the outside world, by giving an insight of what these really needed products are, to those who totally lost track of that. Furthermore it promotes the logic of a DIY community in which things can get fixed instead of disposing them. The Home.Work box itself promotes responsible design as a product because it focuses on the needs of marginalized communities and not the wants of consumer culture; so the box itself is a product of responsible design.