Za'atari refugee camp, jordan
Syrian Civil War conflict has been testing the resilience of native families for the past three years. Close quarters and desperation are spurring domestic violence, depression, illness, and a decline in education in Za’atari, the world’s second largest refugee camp that houses almost 200,000 displaced Syrians. Values that were once priorities, such as education, have fallen in importance as survival has become the new focus. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) provides caravans for refugee families that serve as living quarters, shops, health clinics, and classrooms throughout the camp. While these structures serve to shelter, they are simple box forms that offer little opportunity for customization, programming, and transformation.
We, as a group, have designed a structure that is quickly deployable, affordable, and highly customizable. We want the Za’atari refugee camp to utilize our shelters not only as homes, but as community drivers. We have developed supplementary kits that can transform the shelters into classrooms to increase educational enrollment, health clinics to provide more effective treatment spaces, and work spaces to maximize productivity among the entrepreneurial community. The prominence of the Mashrabiya panels, or intricate screens, relates back to the culture of the Syrian people. The panels are typically used on the upper half of the house, creating pressurized air circulation and draw fresh air through the home, resulting in passive cooling in a hot and arid climate.
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This structure is designed to far exceed the intended stay of a Za'atari refugee. However, in the event that residents may be able to return home, the structures can be broken down and redistributed to other displaced victims of the Syrian conflict afflicting the Middle East. If possible, a family may disassemble the structures and take them back to their homes to be reconstructed while a more permanent residence is established given the destruction of war.
Flexible programmatic units may continue to operate as health clinics and small school spaces in areas in need of such programs. These units may be assembled in compounds for larger scale clinics and schools.