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Mbera Refugee Camp, Mauritania
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Mbera Camp is located in the southeast corner of Mauritania (50km from Malian border) and gives hospitality to refugees escaped from Mali after the 2012 crisis. In February 2014 the number of refugees is over 80,000. The alternative to transitional shelter is much more durable than the original design. The debate concerning the concept of 'transitional' as semi-permanent construction is still open. The comfort of the new classrooms is largely based on the effect (thermal insulation) of the massive sandbag wall: empirical tests suggest that internal temperature is substantially lower in the sandbags classrooms than in other structures. The use of superimposed bags filled with sand as masonry, with a cement plaster on chicken wire for both sides of the wall, is widely used in various areas of the world, and nowadays it can be regarded as a consolidated technique. The various stages of the construction correspond to the sequence of the very simple building techniques in use: masonry and plastering can be completed before installation of metalwork takes place and the whole production can be easily organized.


The classrooms are covered with a double layer roof, where the initial corrugated iron sheeting has been replaced by a tarpaulin installed on a series of metal trusses (production takes place in Bassikonou). Ropes are made out of polyester. The sub-horizontal roof plays a crucial role in the overall scheme: it is aimed at minimizing the effects of wind and assuring natural ventilation and lighting of the internal room. The internal layer is formed by a traditional fabric. Flooring is detached by the walls and is constituted by a layer of banco (adobe bricks) on which a concrete flooring is poured. The building is finished by rough plaster that is left simply lime washed. Plaster's roughness is a solution to conceal cracks and to produce a slight self shading effect on the wall.

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bostjan, February 20th, 2017
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