A huge school for Syrian refugees is set to be built at a camp in Jordan, using a modular and re-deployable construction system developed with the help of former Architecture for Humanity director Cameron Sinclair.
Italian non-profit organisation Building Peace Foundation is behind the construction of the new building, which will be the 10th facility it has completed at the Za’atari refugee camp, as part of its Re:Build architecture project.
The school, which will be built in the autumn, will join a centre for arts and culture, as well as several other educational and community spaces previously erected at the camp. It will be the largest yet, with space for up to 3,000 children.
The aim of the Re:Build project is to overhaul the standard approach to constructing refugee camps and emergency settlements in order to create “safer, more dignified, sustainable shelters” that can be built by members of the community.
“In the past two years since we started this adventure, BPF has shown that it is possible to achieve significant positive impact on the living conditions and wellbeing of refugees stuck in emergency situations for too long,” said BPF’s co-founder and president Ilenia Moroso.
“We strongly believe it’s time to offer them more long-term housing solutions, especially schools and community spaces where they can start to rebuild their lives.”
Building Peace Foundation was founded in 2014. The charity collaborated with Sinclair and architect Pouya Khazaeli on the development of a construction system for building temporary, modular and re-deployable structures.
The buildings can be erected without electricity or water, and are designed to be built by refugees who have no prior construction experience.
“Re:Build was created to put the community at the centre of the project,” the organisation explained. “A team of 10 workers, lacking any knowhow, is capable of assembling a typical structure in two weeks, with the supervision of a Building Peace technician.”
The construction workers are paid for their labour and the completed buildings can be used as houses, schools, clinics, canteens, or for any other function the community requires.
The system utilises low-cost construction elements such as scaffolding poles, combined with locally available materials like gravel, to create structures that can be quickly dismantled and redeployed in other emergency situations.
The project has also created more than 100 jobs for refugees and local micro economies.
At the What Design Can Do 2015 conference in Amsterdam, Cameron Sinclair gave Dezeen a detailed account of how he got involved in the project through the Small Works design firm he founded after leaving disaster-relief organisation Architecture for Humanity.
“I started off a project in mid 2013, looking at coming up with a construction methodology that would engage the refugees themselves, not only to build their own communities, but to be able to redeploy those communities back into Syria once the conflict is over,” he explained.
Sinclair has worked in disaster-relief contexts for two decades, both with Architecture for Humanity, which he founded in 1999 with Kate Stohr, and the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.
Sinclair and Stohr left Architecture for Humanity at the end of 2013 and the organisation subsequently filed for bankruptcy in 2016.
The designer has since been working with Airbnb, leading a team that will work on accommodating refugees through its home-sharing platform.
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