Project undertaken in course year 2022-23 with Mawa Modular

Project Goal

Enhance modular housing for refugees in Jordan, developing modular roof design for each housing unit. Specifically, to develop a modular, six-panel roof while readying it for manufacturing and testing that the design meets the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan. 

Project Motivation

There are over 6.8 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, having been displaced from their homes due to the Syrian civil war.  The average time living in these refugee camps is now over 17 years, yet the families live in tents that function for 6 mos to 5 years. 

Mawa Modular is an organization developing modular housing for these refugee camps with longer life spans that provide stability an ddignity for the residents. And important feature of these housings is the roof structure that needs to be easily assembled, low cost and interfaces with other modules during building expansion.


There are multiple organizations developing solutions for these refugee camps, but they are either too expensive, too difficult to assemble, or don't last long enough. Their typical lifespans range from 1 to 5 years.  

Mawa Modular's approach is using hexagonal modules as the living space, which requires the roofing to need to connect to adjacent modules as well as the one upon which it is mounted. 

Housing in a typical refugee camp in Jordan

High Priority Requirements

Ethical Considerations


We developed a roof design consisting of 6 triangular shaped panels that bolt together. Each panel is made up of structural and thermal components, and provides a 14-degree pitch angle. The panels and connections are strong enough to easily allow for one panel to be removed and replaced without disturbing the remaining five roof panels. The roof can be assembled by hand with just two wrenches. 

Full system

Schematic showing the full system design, along with associated costs of the components.

System Prototype

Half-scale finished prototype.

Pitch angle

FEA studies assessing the max stress of the roof depending on the pitch angle. From these analyses, in conjunction with deflection analyses, a 14-degree angle was determined to be optimal. 

Stress of support beam

With the 14-degree angle, this study assessed the stress in the roof support beams. Applying the load of 417 kg, equivalent to the load applied by snow, roof itself, solar panels, an adult, and a factor of safety of 2.  With that load applied, the beam underwent a stress of 62 MPa, well below the the yield strength of steel, meaning the material will be strong enough.  

Thermal test setup

Thermal tests were conducted to assess the insulative properties of three materials: Aluminum (left), Glass-reinforced plastic (middle) and pink foam (right). Each of these had the internal air temperature brought to a starting temperature, then the system was removed into a lower temperature environment and time to cool was measured.

Thermal results

Internal temperature vs time is plotted here. From this, GRP and Pink Foam perform similarly to each other, both better than Aluminum

Roof Assembly

This half-scale prototype was built by 2 team members by hand and with hand tools, in 25 minutes. 

Other work conducted

Student team

Jordan Trip

Future Work