23 February, 2012

Improving Migrant Worker Conditions by Design

The migrant worker housing project, a concept that originated at VCUQatars biennial design conference Tasmeem Doha, is aimed to address the need for temporary labor accommodation associated with Qatars rapid growth and development.

The Center for Research, Design and Entrepreneurship at VCUQatar supports collaborative research endeavors that contribute to Qatar’s innovative and enterprising future. One current endeavor is the migrant worker housing project, a project that examines and identifies sustainable, economic options for application in urban, rural and remote construction site locations to serve the growing market for migrant worker housing in Qatar. The concept is based on a business model that demonstrates cost effectiveness through reduced operating costs and is intended to meet and surpass international standards for migrant workers’ living conditions.

Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) is the funding organization for the $1.4 million project while QSTP’s Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program (TIEP) developed the business model.

The project evolved from its initial mandate of evaluating the feasibility of converting shipping containers for migrant worker housing into an enhanced scope of work that demonstrates the value of a holistic design approach. A distinctively different and innovative design concept transpired as the Proof of Concept. The key component of the new concept is a sustainable social model for communal living. This social model is reinforced by innovative design and planning concepts using modular, portable modules. These modules are connected with a ‘connecting architecture’, which threads through the community providing the residents with a rich and nurturing environment. The combination of these modules and connecting architecture is economical and can be easily configured to respond to specific site conditions and modified as the labor camp expands and contracts.

A prototype is being constructed in Education City and will be followed by a period of thermal performance monitoring. After successful completion and testing of the prototype, the goal is to see the project implemented to improve worker's overall well being and to prove sustainable economics by demonstrating increased productivity and quality of work for migrant workers.