Migrant Worker Housing: A Portable Architecture for Qatar

The Center for Research, Design and Entrepreneurship at VCUQatar supports collaborative research endeavors that contribute to Qatar’s innovative and enterprising future. One ongoing endeavor is the migrant worker housing project aimed to address the need for temporary labor accommodation associated with Qatar’s rapid growth and development.

Providing an Economically Sustainable Model for Migrant Worker Housing.

VCUQatar has recently entered into a commercial agreement with CORE Projects and Supply WLL who have purchased the first rights to use the concept and are currently negotiating long-term rights.

Working with CORE Projects and Supply WLL., who are experts in the field of Supply Chain Logistics, we have reconciled the logistics of manufacturing and delivering the modules in the quantity and schedule, which will be required to meet the anticipated need. Eight global module manufacturers have been shortlisted who have the capability and the capacity to meet our specifications, manufacturing and delivery schedules. Without a similar supply chain in place, no one will be able to meet the anticipated demand and schedule.

From the start, the VCUQatar team understood that to make a real and sustainable change to the quality of our guest workers lives, the design of the accommodation was only one piece of an intricate network of issues that need to be addressed before this goal can be achieved and if it is to be adopted on a large scale, the design must be socially and economically sustainable. Thus the key component of the concept became a sustainable social model for communal living, reinforced by innovative design and planning concepts using modular, portable modules.

Over the last year, the VCUQatar team has worked tirelessly on refining the original design and material specifications to achieve the maximum and cost effective life cycle of the building system. Our ‘portable’ implementation strategy is now well able to respond to the rapidly changing conditions in Qatar. The modular design expedites the speed of construction through prefabricated components such as ‘Plug and Play’ mechanical and electrical systems, demountable and re-locatable building components and multiple manufacturers. The site infrastructure is supported by a self-contained sewage treatment plant, recycled water systems and portable landscaping concepts. In addition, the accommodation can be re-purposed after its initial use. It can be rented or leased to others, sold and/or relocated.

In April 2013, Qatar Foundation introduced the “QF Mandatory Standards of Migrant Workers’ Welfare for Contractors and Sub-Contractors” to ensure the application of fair employment principles for all migrant workers engaged in construction and other service activities. These standards are now included in the tender documents for all QF contracts. Leading institutions such as Ashghal, Msheireb Properties, Qatar Rail and others have adopted these standards as well.

With CORE on board and new standards on the rise, VCUQatar is in a very strong position to commercialize the project. The team is currently in discussions with several potential developers and investors and is preparing a formal proposal for a 2,200-person labor camp.