Emergency Housing Studio

Beyond Place Studio

Supporting innovations beyond shelter to create dignified housing and vibrant public spaces.

The Beyond Place Studio exists to support the refugee-led design and implementation of dignified housing and vibrant public spaces. We collaborate with teams of urban planners, engineers, entrepreneurs, and NGOs to support community efforts to use local materials to create dignified housing.

Newlab has partnered with Opportunigee to develop a village pilot—a multi-year refugee-driven program focused on prototyping, building, and testing new solutions at the Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda. The project will take into account community needs including water, food, energy, and public space.

Community partner
Community partner

Want to support community development in the Nakivale refugee settlement? Get in touch to learn more or to collaborate with the Beyond Place Studio.

Focus areas
Dignified housing

Enabling local and sustainable supply chains through the exploration of environmental factors, materials, structures, and building methods that create more dignified shelter.

Vibrant public spaces

Creating refugee-designed and built multi-use gathering spaces and knowledge hubs that support community development.

Tech solutions

Adapting technology to address community needs—including water, sanitation, agriculture, cooking, and off-grid solar—with a focus on localized products and innovation.

Skills training

Supporting the village pilot build in Nakivale by forming an ecosystem of peer-to-peer training and skill-building opportunities for refugees including carpentry, fabrication, brick-making, and more.

Key dates
Site visits
October 2019
Research and discovery
October 2019 – January 2020
Testing and implementation
February – June 2020
Village pilot build
July – December 2020


Nakivale, Uganda
Uganda is host to 1.4 million refugees and over 130,000 of those refugees live in the Nakivale settlement in southwest Uganda. By supporting refugee-led innovation in this settlement, the Beyond Place Studio has the opportunity to redefine dignified shelter and placemaking.

About Opportunigee

Newlab has partnered with Opportunigee, a community-based organization co-created by Patrick Muvunga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization operates as a social entrepreneurship hub that provides space for refugees to create their own opportunities. Refugee-run and open to all, it provides internet, tools, and learning resources. Along with Muvunga’s design and innovation studio, Opportunigee has developed projects including a radio station, amphitheater, learning center, housing, and other public health amenities in Nakivale, Uganda.

Inquire about collaboration

Get in touch to learn more or to collaborate with the Beyond Place Studio.