Zaha Hadid Architects designs modular tents as emergency shelters

27 tents designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the Education Above All Foundation will be placed as schools, clinics, and emergency shelters within displaced communities.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jan 07, 2023

British architecture and design firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has conceived a series of modular white tents in collaboration with the non-profit Education Above All Foundation (EAA), to serve and support displaced populations across the Middle East. Donated to EAA, by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and its human and social legacy programme, these tents will be employed as schools, clinics, and emergency and temporary shelters, to be placed within displaced communities in Syria, Turkey, and Yemen.

The ZHA-EAA modular white tents seek to support displaced populations across Syria, Turkey, and Yemen | | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
The ZHA-EAA modular white tents seek to support displaced populations across Syria, Turkey, and Yemen Image: Courtesy of Education Above All Foundation

The London-based architecture firm relayed, “With more than 70 million people displaced in their own countries or living as refugees, and half under the age of 18, EAA saw a critical need for suitable infrastructure that could serve as classrooms, temporary housing, and medical centres for displaced children and their families. That’s when the Foundation teamed up with (us) to create a structure that offers safe, versatile and sustainable spaces for children to use for play, learning, and development.”

Timelapse of EAA Foundation’s tents being constructed and put to use in Turkey Video: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects and Education Above All Foundation

The weather-proof tents conceived by the late Dame Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher permit plenty of natural light and uses principals of modular architecture to make the entire set of 27 tents easy to transport, disassemble, re-assemble, and expand as needed. It also comprises of elements that can be recycled and upcycled as well, a nod to sustainability. These features, therefore, make this social design ideal for displaced populations. 

Exterior view of the modular tent | EAA Foundation Tents| | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
Exterior view of the modular tent Image: Courtesy of Education Above All Foundation

Each tent module is 12m long x 8m wide and is designed to be built on-site. It features a steel frame with stretched fabric walls and roofs, anchored safely to concrete foundations. The open space created in the centre of the interlaced structures can host up to 45 students in a makeshift classroom and is fitted with a skylight on the roof, letting in daylight. The characteristic parametric language ZHA is known for can be witnessed in the sail-like forms surrounding this central space. The tents are constructed using an identical extruded aluminium arch structure, as its primary member, allowing for longer spans and interior flexibility, as well as accentuating the fabrication and installation process.

The tent structure offers safe, versatile and sustainable spaces for children to use for play, learning, and development| EAA Foundation Tents| | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
The tent structure offers safe, versatile and sustainable spaces for children to use for play, learning, and development Image: Courtesy of Education Above All Foundation

The structure uses PVC as its base material for membranes, which is one of the most lightweight, durable, and recyclable materials. A low-emissivity PVC fabric with multi-foil insulation is used for both the outer and inner membranes to ensure heat is retained in the winter and reflected in the summer. The cavity between the skins minimises solar gain.

The tent module is designed to be built on-site, and features a steel frame with stretched fabric walls and roofs | EAA Foundation Tents| | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
The tent module is designed to be built on-site and features a steel frame with stretched fabric walls and roofs Image: Luke Hayes

“We have a like-minded partner in Education Above All who is committed to investing in innovative design for the better good of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. Together, we developed a robust, cost-effective, and lightweight modular architectural system with fabric envelope to build structures that can be adapted in many variations to meet the conditions and lives of displaced children and children on the move. We hope that these newly donated tents will bring safety, learning, and play to thousands in Yemen, Syria, and Turkey,” relays Zaha Hadid Architects’ Project Architect, Gerry Cruz, about the noble modular design and community architecture.

Portable, flexible and multi-use form of the tents | EAA Foundation Tents| | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
Portable, flexible and multi-use form of the tents Image: Luke Hayes

“(15 of these tents) will be donated to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and the Qatar Red Crescent, as part of the country’s efforts to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has a lasting impact, beyond the tournament. The news was announced at a ZHA-EAA tent inside the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha,” the collaborators shared. 10 of these will serve as schools, while the remaining five as health clinics in Turkey and Yemen. Qatar Red Crescent will receive 12 structures that will serve as shelters for displaced communities in Syria.

Three of these 27 tents have already in use for displaced Pakistani and Syrian children residing in Pakistan and Turkey, respectively | EAA Foundation Tents| | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
Three of these 27 tents have already in use for displaced Pakistani and Syrian children residing in Pakistan and Turkey, respectively Image: Luke Hayes

The ZHA-EAA’s modular construction imbibed EAA’s 'Scoring 4 the Goals' campaign at the FIFA Fan Festival, which was visited by football fans during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The campaign included art and immersive video exhibits, discussions, games, and several activities which sought to create awareness about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Education Above All Foundation’s Chairperson, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, stressed the potential of such an initiative during the campaign’s closing ceremony, sharing that although placing a tent in a displaced community might seem like a small thing, "every one of the UN goals is interconnected: health, education, eradicating poverty...they are all part of ensuring a sustainable planet."

The weather-proof tents let in natural light and has a modular structure that makes it easy to transport, disassemble, re-assemble, and comprises elements that can be recycled and upcycled as well | EAA Foundation Tents| | Zaha Hadid Architects | Emergency shelters | STIRworld
The weather-proof tents let in natural light and have a modular structure that makes it easy to transport, disassemble, and re-assemble, and comprises elements that can be recycled and upcycled as well Image: Luke Hayes

Education Above All’s CEO, Fahad Al Sulaiti elaborated on the social architecture—“Each and every one of us has a role to play to ensure that we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. At EAA, we are committed to doing our part to achieve SDG 4, and by donating these tents, we are acting now to help countless children in Yemen, Turkey and Syria to have access to quality and accessible education.”

(Text by Aaryaa Joshi, intern at STIRworld)

Project Details

Name: Education Above All Foundation with Zaha Hadid Architects (Joint venture partnership)
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
Design: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
Project Director: Charles Walker
Project Architect: Gerry Cruz
Project Team: David Reeves, Ilya Pereyaslavtsev, Ramon Weber, Vladislav Bek Bulatov, Henry David Louth, Vishu Bhooshan, Li Chen, Ruxandra Matei

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