60 609 In Transit - Architectural Solutions in Emergencies


Passed foundation level courses/ Bachelor. Open for architecture and landscape architecture students. (it is not a prerequisite to have attended any of the other In Transit Studios).

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

Keen interest in current global affairs, with a particular interest in working with real time challenges concerning refugees, internally displaced persons, and their host communities. Strong belief and interest in using architectural solutions in contributing to solving some of the biggest challenges of our times: mass displacement and urbanization.

Course content

In the context of humanitarian emergency operations and as a contribution to the global response to mass displacement, the In Transit III Studio aims to develop design solutions, urban planning strategies, and tactical urbanism interventions to increase the livability for people in transit and their host communities. The projects will be developed and based on the following situations/locations: Emergency operations and first reception centers for refugees in Italy; and Resettlement programs in Portugal.

A collaboration between the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)/NORCAP and the Oslo School of Architecture (AHO) was established in 2015 as a part of a NORCAP initiated project called ‘BUILD’.
The ‘BUILD’ initiative demonstrates that the two partner organizations have a mutual interest in developing new thinking and fresh approaches to architectural solutions in humanitarian response and resettlement projects. The NRC/NORCAP recognizes the need for bringing in expertise from academia and the world of architecture in humanitarian response, while the AHO on the other hand is acknowledging the importance of including current global affairs into the school’s curriculum and the potential of external partnerships.

Works from the In Transit I Studio (Spring 2016) and the In Transit II Studio (Fall 2016) have already been shared with the United Nations and governmental partners. The In Transit III Studio will also directly contribute to the NORCAP ‘BUILD’ initiative. The students at the In Transit III Studio will have the opportunity to influence the future of humanitarian response. Please note that the three In Transit Studios are only connected thematically, and each semester focuses on different cases and challenges.

The studio is specifically designed to function as a testbed for merging academia with field experiences, with the aim of developing new thinking and fresh approaches to physical and social structures in humanitarian response and resettlement solutions. In this regard, the studio will focus on the following themes and incorporate these in all project proposal concerning DIGNIFIED RECEPTION FACILITIES / RESETTLEMENT PROGRAMS

LOCATION / SITE SELECTION FOR HOSTING NEW ARRIVALS (REFUGEES / IDPs): The potential for integrating humanitarian response with urban planning mechanisms is, in general an unexplored subject. The focus is usually on the challenges that come with rapid urbanization and mass influx of people to cities, rather than exploring the opportunities for the host communities of accepting new arrivals. There is a need to develop projects that present a new form of urban planning focusing on refugee integration as an opportunity for revitalizing poor urban neighborhoods. Location and access to services are important factors in providing access to services and livelihood opportunities.

PROTECTION, SAFTEY, AND REDUCING THE RISK OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: The physical layout of a temporary displacement site or other situations hosting new arrivals, will directly affect the safety of the ones living there, as well as for the surrounding neighborhoods. The decisions made by the architect/planner will impact the daily lives of vulnerable persons and the population in general. Access to sanitary facilities, placement of functions, street lighting, proper Child-friendly and female-friendly spaces, are a few examples of elements that need to be considered.

THE NEED FOR SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURES: Using architecture and design as a mean to ensure the psychosocial well-being of disaster-affected populations. Places that serve everyone in a temporary situation: recreational space; meeting places; a kitchen; play areas; urban furniture, or other social gathering points - are especially important for those with no option to maintain their social habits in unfamiliar and often hostile environments.

The themes listed above will be discussed in two different contexts:

ITALY: Emergency Response and first reception centers

“The number of refugees and migrants reaching European shores this year passed the 300,000 mark today, UNHCR figures show. This is considerably lower than the 520,000 registered sea arrivals during the first nine months of 2015, but higher than the 216,054 arrivals during the whole of 2014.
A closer look at the two main countries of arrival, Greece and Italy, reveals important differences. Arrivals in Italy this year follow the same pattern as last year, with 130,411 refugees and migrants entering in 2016, compared with 132,071 during the first nine months of last year. However, more people arriving in Italy are staying there.” – William Spindler, Spokesperson for The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

How do we transition from temporary arrangements to permanent solutions?

PORTUGAL: Resettlement Programs
In response to the refugee crisis and despite the internal economic crisis, Portugal has stepped up its commitment to relocate around 4.500 refugees until 2017, in addition to 5.000 through bilateral agreements with other EU countries. Before this decision was made, Portugal usually receives around 30 refugees under their annual resettlement quota and a thousand spontaneous asylum applications.
Source: International Organization for Migration (IOM) Portugal.

How will the new arrivals be integrated in the society, and what are the urban and physical implications of these programs?

During the excursion week, the studio will travel to Portugal

Learning outcomes

To gain in-depth insights and work with real time global challenges. Merging architecture with the particularities of the United Nations and the international community’s crisis response mechanisms will be the main objective of the course. The course will provide students in gaining insight into crisis response, focusing on the role of the architect / planner in this context.

Professor in charge

Håvard Breivik & Tone Selmer-Olsen


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Vurderingsmappe Individual Pass / Fail

The student need to answer all assignments and be present at all presentations to pass the course.
For students who are not able to meet these requirements, or do not have a valid reason for being absent, an assessment of the total body of works produced during the semester will be carried out at the end of the semester to finally decide if the student has reached the desired learning outcomes.