Design the Future City of Refugees

A special issue of Urban Science (ISSN 2413-8851).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 998

Special Issue Editor

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CITUA—Centre for the Innovation in Territory, Urbanism and Architecture, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: architecture; urban planning; sustainable development; energy efficience; smart cities; nature-based solutions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Populations have been fleeing from conflicts, natural disasters, droughts, and other causes and migrating to more favorable places since the dawn of time. Recently, the flow of immigration has stemmed from a lack of security and the search for a better life with the hope of a future. The largest migration movements stem from the continent of Africa and have led to the extensive, largely self-governing Sahrawi refugee camps in Southern Algeria. The design of early refugee camps was intended to guarantee a home and access to supplies from governments and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHR), adopting a standardized spatial organization. The growth in the number of refugee camps and a laid-back political response has led to the existence of camps with populations of different cultures and ethnicities, with little thought to encouraging integration. Some of the camps feature an urban layout with uniformity of rows of tents, other an organic layout very similar to those of informal areas around large cities. The lack of consultation with refugee communities at planning stage makes constructing camps with their own identity difficult. Providing conditions that transform the transitory camps to more formal settlements can promote new ways of living and economic opportunities and provide open spaces that support community building. The idea is that people shape space to their image, while they are shaped by the structures that are resistant to change. Space for communal interaction is vital to the refugee condition. Public spaces within the camps are ideal for communal living and letting go of frustrations, alleviating pressure and loss of hope. We need to start by qualifying public space and providing places of comfort. Stronger social integration can be achieved by improving existing spaces to match the values, behaviors, and economic capacities of camp residents, and creating new spaces with collaborative plans based on the participation and expectations of the residents. Along with this transformation from the informal to formal, infrastructure utilities and the regularization of land ownership and housing construction must also be considered. A management model should be structured so that occupations and professions respond to the transformation of tents into more resilient housing; opportunities for carpenters, electricians, painters, and others will transform them from refugees to citizens. The self-organized system of day-to-day living in camps can result in considerable self-improvement. Quite often, the extended times refugees spend in the camps is used as a ‘learning period’, which leads to knowledge to empower them for the challenges of healthcare, education, and improved living conditions.

For years, we have seen that the difference between the public and the private in cities is blurred. Private spaces are closed and protected, and public spaces are more socially controlled. Within the context of the refugee camps, we could gain greater understanding of human behavior in terms of reaction to increased security, to conflicts, and the unknown factors of climate change. We could also learn about the fragile social context of living in the camps, and gain guidance on planning, transforming, and managing our own cities.

Prof. Dr. Miguel Amado
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Urban Science is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • conflicts and natural disasters
  • refugee camps
  • informal settlements
  • planning
  • public spaces

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
Back to TopTop