Annual Disaster Shelter Design Competition Focuses on Needs of Syrian Refugees

Syrian boy peeks out of shelter in Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan
A Syrian boy peeks out the door of a shelter at Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. Of the 8 million people displaced by Syria’s war, more than half are children.

Media Contact:  Rachel Fiet (John Brown University) 479.430.3846

Siloam Springs, Ark. (April 24, 2014) — John Brown University will host the annual shelter design competition to build a transitional shelter for refugees. This year the prototypes need to meet the needs of potential Syrian refugees living in camps along the Syrian borders of Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. The competition takes place April 24-26 on the JBU campus in Siloam Springs.

Engineering, construction management and architecture students from several colleges and universities around the country will compete. Participating teams submitted preliminary plans for the competition in November and have since worked to refine their prototypes. Once they arrive at JBU, the teams will assemble their shelters for inspection and testing by the judges. Each shelter will undergo testing for habitability and heat retention, as well as the shelter’s ability to withstand an earthquake, wind and rain.

Disaster Response and Service Opportunity Seminar — Great Hall

Leaders from several relief organizations will present information and opportunities concerning disaster relief.

Session 1: Thursday, April 24, 7-9 p.m.

Session 2: Friday, April 25, 4-7 p.m.

Earthquake and Heat Retention Testing Balzer Technology Center

Each team will present their shelter design to the judges and then have it tested for earthquake sustainability. The teams will also be timed for the speed it takes to assemble their shelter.

Thursday, April 24, 1-6 p.m.

Friday, April 25, 1-6 p.m.

Habitability Testing Balzer Technology Center Lawn

Shelters will be judged on their ability to keep occupants comfortable overnight.

Friday, April 25, 9 p.m.-7 a.m. Saturday, April 26

Water and Wind Load Assessment Balzer Technology Center Lawn

Shelters will be judged on their ability to withstand hurricane-force wind and rain.

Saturday, April 26, 7:30-10 a.m.

Seattle-based Cascade Designs Incorporated, which has grown to become the parent company of some of the most respected brands in the outdoor industry, is providing technical assistance and financial support.

To view highlight videos from last year, visit:

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About John Brown University:

John Brown University is a private Christian university, ranked No. 2 overall and No. 1 Best Value among Southern regional colleges by U.S. News and World Report. JBU enrolls more than 2,500 students from 42 states and 44 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and concurrent education programs. JBU is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and a founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.


  • John Brown University to host third annual disaster shelter design competition
  • This year’s submissions are expected to meet the needs of refugees displaced by conflict in Syria