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“Empowering earthquake affected communities through collaborative innovation, providing safe and sustainable housing solutions.”

START stands for Syrian Turkish 

Architectural Recovery Team. START 

is a voluntary student initiative. 

It focuses on the architectural 

recovery of the impacted areas after 

the earthquakes in early February 

2023. The aim of our organisation 

is to build long-term, modular, 

earthquake-resilient housing in rural 

areas, starting with a rural village in 

Hatay, Türkiye. We are collaborating 

with Delft University of Technology. 

Our diverse team of around twenty 

people,consists of professors, 

architects, civil engineers, and 

students from all different kinds of 


Our mission at START is to create earthquake-resilient housing solutions for those affected by earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. Through collaboration with experts from different fields, including students from the TU Delft, we aim to co-create sustainable and affordable modular designs that prioritise local materials and cultural considerations. Our innovative and collaborative approach, supported by various professionals and specialists, ensures our plans are realistic and practical. We analyse initiated designs, build a network, and work towards a prototype.

After testing the prototypes and contacting institutes that could help us realise the design, project management will start the building process. Our approach is from an architectural engineering perspective, considering each crisis site’s unique geographical, political, cultural, and social aspects. Our ultimate goal is to provide turnkey solutions for long-term housing that can withstand extreme situations, significantly impacting the lives of those affected by natural disasters..

As part of its initiative, START has developed a three-phase prototype, with the first phase being a workshop week held from 20 to 24 March. During this phase, students from TU Delft worked in interdisciplinary groups to create an architectural solution for the region. Various professionals and specialists were brought in to guide, teach, and help the students ensure the designs were realistic and practical. 


Currently, START is in the second phase, which involves analysing the initiated designs, building a network, and working towards a prototype. In the following two stages, the team will finalise the design, contact institutes that could help realise the design and organise a summer school in September to build the model and test the houses with the help of engineering firms. 


START is also building connections with local stakeholders to obtain a clear view of all those willing to support the initiative through financial support, expertise, or equipment. After testing the prototypes, project management will start the building process. With its innovative and collaborative approach, START significantly impacts the lives of those affected by natural disasters.

How we started

After witnessing the devastating effects of natural disasters, the founders of START, Meriç Kessaf, Leyla van der Waarde, and Meriam Sehimi, were inspired to take action. Their shared passion for humanitarian architecture led them to create an initiative dedicated to finding urgent solutions for long-term humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of natural disasters. 


By combining architectural techniques and knowledge from various fields, START aims to create practical and realistic solutions for those impacted by natural disasters. Over the last few months, the group has grown to forty students, including architectural engineering, earth sciences, psychology, civil engineering, and more experts. START takes a collaborative approach, leveraging the knowledge and expertise of its members across different fields. 

START organised a workshop week to kick off the initiative, where students, experts, and professors worked together to create possible solutions. The workshop featured various lectures on different topics, and the interdisciplinary groups created concept designs. The workshop concluded with eleven impressive designs with multiple approaches currently being analysed and developed further. START is also building connections with local stakeholders to obtain support for the initiative. Through its innovative and collaborative approach, START significantly impacts the lives of those affected by natural disasters.

Meet the START team


The START team consists of enthusiastic student, professors, architects and engineers. 

Foto's start

Leyla van der Waarde

Foto's start

Burcu Köken

Bouwkundestudent Meriç Kessaf: ik wist dat familie in Turkije risico liep

Meriç Kessaf

Foto's start

Alizé Massonnet

Foto's start

Hena Micooğullari van Alphen

Foto's start

Job Schroen



Meriam Sehimi

Defne Tugay

Marh Echtai

Mustafa Yücesan

Website manager

Tala Wadeh

Website manager

Raneem Musallab

Olivia Nguyen

Hasan Hashas


Rens van Poppel

Saja Al Khamissi

Annika Mayer

Hania Adamczyk

Lise Sarda

Shreya Sen

Klaudia Kurzacz

Mucahid Musallab

Jacky Lai

Anass Kariouh