In 2015, nearly 60,000 refugees arrived in the Netherlands needing a place to live.
The Netherlands is a small country, just more than half the size of West Virginia, so housing all of them was going to be a challenge. As the worldwide refugee crisis continues, innovative solutions are needed so that the people fleeing civil war and sectarian violence have a safe place to live.
In this case, the solution involved, in part, opening up an old abandoned prison as temporary public housing. It was a less-than-ideal situation to say the least.
The country was determined to do better.
In January 2016, the Netherlands launched a design competition called "A Home Away From Home" in which entrants were tasked with designing temporary housing for refugees and disaster victims.
All of the winning designs rethought the idea of public housing, adding amenities and innovations to make the buildings more like fully functioning homes than simply a bed to sleep on.
The winners of the contest recently appeared on display in Amsterdam as part of Dutch Design Week and included things like solar power, water purification systems, and ingenious use of space and material.
We're going to need more and more of this type of housing and way of thinking about the refugee crisis.
Home is a concept many of us take for granted, but it's not a small thing. It makes us feel safe, comfortable, and human.
The current refugee crisis hasn't showed signs of slowing down, and with climate change creating more and more dangerous weather systems, we're likely to see climate refugee numbers grow sharply. All of those people are going to need places to live. Innovative solutions like these help them to not only live, but live with dignity and opportunity.