From the Open Manufacturing forum, Eric Hunting comments:

This seems like a pretty logical plan to me. The key part I think is that you plan for industries within the refugee settlements built on the architecture and support systems of the settlement itself, thus providing jobs and the cultivation of critical skills within the community that will empower the refugees near-term and in the return home. If there’s an omission in your article, it might be in not going into a little more detail about that education and venues for in-community economic development. Also, the finance service infrastructure. Can Bitcoin become the refugees’ new basis of banking? Aid/refugee camps are typically organized with the logic of a military camp rather than a community, and thus omit things like community forums, education facilities, and space for entrepreneurial development. Politicians always pretend that emergencies never last longer than one news cycle and so never think about the long-term aspects of relief.

Another thing that could use more elaboration is the choice of construction and how it relates to that in-community economic development and industrial empowerment. What is the community made out of and how is it made? What are the resources needed and where do they come from? How much can be sourced locally or regionally? Can a community sustain a resource supply internally, must it be supplemented by donated materials, or can it produce goods for the outside market to sustain its resource supply? CNC fabrication is a powerful way to make almost everything a community needs — from houses to furniture to bicycles. But it needs those industrially-made sheet materials like plywood, MDF, and EcoBoard. Making things out of compressed earth block is good in a situation where labor is cheaper than materials, ( ) but even that needs a source of cement and a properly balanced mix of earth. Earth houses may be based mostly on ‘local’ materials but getting those materials involves excavation, which can be rather destructive at a large project scale. Can you build houses quickly enough in an on-demand fashion to cope with the refugee influx?

In dealing with the incoming flow of refugees you may have several stages of shelter need; temporary, transitional, and long-term/permanent. These may call for different kinds of architecture with different production rates and stockpiling options. Unless you maintain a large surplus of permanent housing, which isn’t efficient, or have extremely quick production of it, you will have these stages as people wait to get a home made. Refugees move in large unpredictable waves that tend to be overwhelming by depleting resources rapidly and driving processing to capacity limits. As a community is established, it can help in absorbing these waves by providing temporary shelter through home sharing. But if it’s not kept to a minimum in duration, it will produce conflicts. Stockpiled transitional housing is thus a good way to cope with this efficiently, especially if it can be based on adaptive structures with multiple uses so it can be used for other things when not needed for shelter — taken on and off line with demand. For instance, warehouse structures. You might stockpile the materials for permanent housing and then, when a wave hits, you’re emptying out that materials storage space to use for transitional shelter as you’re using those materials to make people’s homes. People move into their homes and that warehouse space is then used to stockpile materials again. That’s a pretty efficient buffer.

Another thing is that refrigeration-based air-water generators are very energy-intensive and systems with a greater capacity than just basic drinking water needs can be very large. There is also added power needed for a pressure pump to provide water pressure to fixtures. Combining them with a home air conditioning system might much improve the overall efficiency and also greywater handling, compost or incinerator toilets, use of shower diverters, household water catchment, dew collectors, and such will help but I suspect there might not be a whole in-home solution given the locations, especially when you add-in home farming too. Think around 50 gallons or 200 liters per person per day and maybe double that with significant in-home farming. (USGS suggests around 80–100 gallons per day for the typical American household, but that’s not with much effort at efficiency) Where I live water is trucked in and home storage tanks start at about 1000 gallons in capacity. (typical equivalents in Australia are 3200–3600L) Size is around 72" diameter and 65" high. So it’s a pretty big item by itself. Metric ones are usually narrower and taller and Australia and Europe have a lot of interesting shapes intended to better integrate with homes.

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