Refugee School For Young Women
In the heat of the Syrian refugee crisis, it is of utmost importance that the young women in refugee camps have access to education in a space that makes them feel safe and at ease. Evidence from the United Nations states that Syrian women and girls are being sexually assaulted and enslaved during this crisis, and used as weapons of war.1 In Lebanon, where there aren’t established refugee camps, 57% of young women from the age 15-18 have reported thoughts of ending their life.2 The urgency to restore normalcy in their lives through proper and safe education is vital to their mental health and development.
In order to fulfill this urgency, a prefabricated building is the solution for simple and quick construction. The school design can be implemented in any of the numerous camps in surrounding countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq that serve as the new homes of the refugees. The kit of parts that makes up the school has been sized to be easily transported to the different sites. The kit consists of not only the bones of the building, but a series of wall panels that were designed to accommodate different programs and functions of a promising learning environment. A proposal was designed as to how the building’s shell would be filled, but the structural system and panels allow for a flexibility of different internal layouts, as well as future expansion and relocation.
The notion of an internal architecture is important in the Islamic culture, and was applied in the Refugee School for Young Women through a transition from outdoor to indoor spaces. The exterior of the school is less transparent to the outside for the privacy of the students, but the interior opens up in the center to a courtyard space which is a staple of architecture in the culture. Access to daylight in the classrooms from the courtyard reduces irritability and restlessness while learning. The courtyard serves as the focal point of the school, providing the young women a place to play which positively influences their development.
The Syrian refugee crisis has filtered into the surrounding countries as refugees seek safety. Regardless of what camp or country the school is built in, the sacred prayer space will always face Mecca. The square, courtyard typology and flexible interior was designed to still allow ventilation and natural daylight into the school when the building is slightly rotated towards Mecca depending on where it’s located.