scorecardA Ukrainian architecture firm is developing modular homes that can be scaled to the size of a town and house up to 8,000 refugees — take a look at the design
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A Ukrainian architecture firm is developing modular homes that can be scaled to the size of a town and house up to 8,000 refugees — take a look at the design

Amanda Goh   

A Ukrainian architecture firm is developing modular homes that can be scaled to the size of a town and house up to 8,000 refugees — take a look at the design
LifeThelife2 min read
  • Kyiv-based architecture studio Balbek Bureau has designed a modular village to provide Ukrainian refugees with temporary shelter.
  • The homes can be scaled up into a town that houses around 8,000 people.

An architecture studio based in Kyiv is designing a modular village intended to shelter people who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the war in Ukraine.

More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian forces invaded the country over a month ago, according to the latest data from the United Nations Refugee Agency. Yet another 6.5 million Ukrainians are internally displaced, based on figures from the United Nations International Organization for Migration.

"The biggest idea of the project is to allow people to maintain a dignified way of life," Slava Balbek, the founder and CEO of Balbek Bureau, told Insider on a call from Kyiv, where he is currently still based.

The modular town project is named "RE:UKRAINE."

"The name came from the word 'refugee houses,' and we knew we needed to restyle, rebuild, and renovate Ukraine," the CEO said.

"Our idea is to make it possible for people to feel the comfort that they had in their apartments, whether they just lost it or when their houses were bombed or burned," he added.

The town project is designed in such a way that it can be implemented quickly and with whatever resources are available at hand. Having different material options cushions the project from the unpredictability of the war and any supply-chain shocks, the CEO said.

"If option one faces issues, then we switch over and continue working with two," Balbek said.

Interiors can be modified to suit different uses of everyday life, including sleeping quarters, kitchens, bathrooms, and even communal recreational areas, per a company press release.

The modules, which measure 6.6 meters by 3.3 meters (21 feet by 11 feet) each, will be grouped into self-sufficient residential sections that have shared bathrooms, communal kitchens, and common spaces for residents to interact with each other, per the press release.

Residential sections can be arranged into neighborhoods with dedicated green spaces and playgrounds, Balbek said. These plans can be scaled up to the size of a small town to accommodate roughly 8,000 people a piece.

"The main thing is that the design, the overall look of this project right now, it's just an option," Balbek said.

"Doesn't matter what it looks like, because the structure of our presentation, we are showing the analysis, the function, the principle of a comfortable life. So the important thing, it's really a system for refugee housing," he continued.

The team is currently working on creating three iterations of the modular home using different materials — including one that's built with aluminum panels and insulation — to ensure they are all durable, Balbek said.

The team is still in discussion with authorities and private investors, but Balbek said they hope to start building these shelters soon, especially in western parts of Ukraine that have been relatively sheltered from the fighting thus far.

"The materials can stand, I think, 20, 30 years. But I hope that it will be not more than three years before the houses will be rebuilt, the cities will be rebuilt and the people will come back to their homes," he added.

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