Blueprint Alliance Plans Model Refugee Camps

The Blueprint Initiative, an alliance formed to develop patterns for regenerative settlements, has agreed upon a project to design model refugee camps, Blueprint 200. During a meeting held at Healing Biotope 1, Tamera, from March 30 to April 3, 2016, the plan to design and build two demonstration sites was agreed upon. The sites will embody a whole-system approach to the building of regenerative settlements, and incorporate all aspects of the basic infrastructure needed by displaced people, such as water and sanitation, energy, road access, agriculture, and shelter.


The team will design one site to be built inside Tamera, and one site situated elsewhere, as yet undetermined. The design of the model camp will be a collaborative process throughout 2016. Members of the alliance will meet for three days in the UK in May, to continue the detailed design process, and again later in the summer, for an experimental design week in Tamera. The construction of the first site in Tamera is planned for 2017. The second demonstration site will be built in collaboration with a local community in a crisis area, possibly for the use of displaced people in Greece.

The site in Tamera will have a capacity of two hundred people, hence the name Blueprint 200. Once built, it will serve as a seasonal camp site for summer visitors and guests. It will be situated near the existing guest lodging, and incorporate all the components of an autonomous settlement, including sleeping spaces, living and gathering spaces, toilets, bathrooms, and cooking facilities.  The site will be an educational demonstration site, as well as a functional living space. The aim is to allow every visitor, resident and student to gain insight into the principles of regenerative design through lived experience.

The team aims to use Blueprint 200 to distil and formulate principles that are as universally applicable as possible, so that practitioners around the world can adapt them to their own specific conditions, cultures and climates. The design will include modular elements that can be used in different combinations, and scaled up and down to suit specific needs. It will include, for example, a number of different modes of shelter and cooking facilities, which can be combined by local implementers. The principles could thus be adapted for a small community of twenty or a large camp of thousands.

A Blueprint 200 Manual will be written during and after the design and construction process – a handbook detailing the principles of regenerative design. This manual will then be available as an educational tool for the designers, constructors and managers of refugee camps and temporary settlements in disaster zones. Its implementation would address the common problem of ecological destruction caused by temporary camps. After such camps are abandoned, ecosystems are often left denuded; but the Blueprint design principles would ensure the land was left in better quality than before the camp was built. The manual is also intended to be used for the construction of more permanent settlements, and to encourage temporary camps to be designed in such a way that they can be easily converted into permanent settlements.

The Blueprint Initiative began in Tamera in 2013, and evolved in 2014 into an alliance of designers, practitioners and development workers. It includes many friends and colleagues of the late Paulo Mellett, an environmental activist and permaculture advocate. Many members of the alliance have experience with the design and construction of regenerative infrastructure or emergency settlements. They have worked at sites all over the world, including in Pakistan, Greece, Nepal, and South Sudan. The group formed with the wish to integrate their various fields of knowledge into a holistic, widely adaptable framework of principles for the design of regenerative settlements. The term regenerative indicates that human culture actively benefits the health of the natural ecosystem, and involves using disruption and change as tools for creative evolution.

(by Helena Laughton for the Global Ecology Institute, April 21, 2016)

Full-time Participants:

Jay Abrahams

Ruth Andrade

Douglas Baillie

Boris Bonjour

Chris Evans

Doerthe Goschin

Ethan Hirsh Tauber

Vera Kleinhammes

Barbara Kovats

Helena Laughton

Peter Mellett

Bernd Mueller

Bee Rowan

Christoph Ulbig

Einat Yarhi

Dror Zohar

Dominik Jais


Part-time Participants:

Tom Chambers

T.H. Culhane

Marcus Dittrich

Leila Dregger

Martin Funk

Carolyn Gomez

Juergen Kleinwaechter

Benjamin von Mendelssohn

Silvano Rizzi

Aida Shibli

Dara Silverman

Mena Vieira

Frederick Weihe

Martin Winiecki

Magnus Wolfe Murray

Julia Wright

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