The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2018
Berkeley Prize 2018

Jahnavi Kantamneni Proposal


Seven years since the beginning of the Syrian Civil war, with over 400,000 people killed, over a million people injured and more than 12 million displaced from their homes, their life in Syria before the war seems like a dream to the Syrian refugees.

The Za’atari Refugee camp, a 2 sq.mile patch of remote desert land lined with white tin sheds, in Jordan, is one of the few safe havens for these Syrian refugees. This camp which was designed in July 2012 for 60,000 refugees, now houses over 80,000 Syrians and is considered as the fourth largest urban setting in Jordan. The influx in these camps is increasing the financial pressure on the international organizations offering aid as a result of which the quality of services offered to them is degrading. But even in the most challenging situations, it is observed that these people adapt to find suitable solutions to cope up with this crisis.

Looking up to the creativeness of the refugees in camps from around the world, the Humanitarian Innovation project initiated by the University of Oxford looks into the viability of refugee innovation in improving the quality of living in the camps. It highlights the bottom-up approach of design innovation - a concept which is defined as the way in which crisis-effected communities engage in creative problem-solving, adapting products and processes to address challenges and create opportunities.

Following this idea of using the shelter occupants in camps as part of the research team rather than just a cohort to study, another project – ‘Healthy Housing for the Displaced’ was initiated by the University of Bath, UK. The ‘Healthy Housing for the Displaced’ is a three-year EPSRC funded project led by researchers at the University of Bath in collaboration with Princess Sumaya University for Technology and the German Jordanian University, Jordan and the Mersin University in Turkey. This projects aims to introduce a transformative new science of shelter design based on multi-criteria optimization that puts the social well-being, health and thermal comfort of the shelter occupants at the center of the design process and allows an agile response. ( The work package four –‘A Displaced-person led science of Shelter Design’ under this project aims to investigate new methods for the exchange of design information between researchers and camp residents which comprise of stakeholder-led design ideas and proposals, in country user requirement definition and participatory design/ refinement of proposed shelter design.

I would like to use this opportunity to work as a volunteer in the 'Healthy Housing for the Displaced' project for six weeks under the guidance of Dr. Kemi Adeyeye, Associate Professor- Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture who is presently leading the Work Package four. I have contacted Dr. Adeyeye and have received their confirmation.

I believe that this trip would give me an insight into the severity of various issues associated with the efficiency of shelter units. Though my interest for humanitarian architecture started off due a personal association with the situation of Syrian refugees – my extended family of Syrian-Indian origin having to flee the country due to war in 2011, I wish to continue working in this field and so I believe that this volunteering programme would help me with a practical understanding of the subject.

ITINERARY: Six weeks program (tentatively in June 2018) schedule will be confirmed by the University.

BUDGET: Delhi to London Heathrow – AirIndia airlines – two way airfare+taxes -$ 750 London to Bath – train fare – two way - $150 London Heathrow to Jordan Amman airport – Alitalia airlines– two way airfare+taxes - $670 London to Bath – train fare – two way - $150 Accommodation - (approx. $30 per day for 6 weeks) - $1350 Food and other costs – (approx. $15 per day for 6 weeks) - $675 Total cost - $3745 The costs over $3700 will be borne by me.

REFERENCES: Healthy Housing for the Displaced – Email: Website: Dr.Kemi Adeyeye – Email:

Additional Help and Information

Are you in need of assistance? Please email
Copyright © 1998-2023 Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence
Privacy Policy Cookie Policy
For permission for any form of re-use of any of the contents, please contact
The BERKELEY PRIZE is endorsed by the Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley.