Classrooms built by refugees for refugees win world architecture award

Simple, effective and low-cost project helps save a generation of school dropouts

By Camille Dupire – Feb 12,2018 – JORDAN TIMES

‘The Dome’ as the residents call it, serves as a classroom for children of the Zaatari village (Photo courtesy of EAHR / Martina Rubino)

AMMAN — Stricken by the realisation that two out of three refugee children tend to drop out of education due to the lack of schools located near their house, the international organisation Emergency Architecture and Human Rights (EAHR) decided to launch its “100 Classrooms and Football fields” project.

In September 2017, EAHR finished its first classroom built in Zaatari village in partnership with the local organisation founded by a Syrian refugee: Acting for Change.

“When we visited Jordan in 2014, we realised that most of the problems related to education are outside and not inside the camps. Because they do not attract as many international NGOs and visibility, host communities are in dire need of assistance, especially in terms of number and quality of schools,” said EAHR Director Michele di Marco, explaining the reason behind the choice of Zaatari village rather than Zaatari camp for their first project.

Convinced that refugees know better than anyone else what their peers need, EAHR and Acting for Change started conducting consultation sessions with the local communities, who pointed out the need for cheap, weather adapted venues.

“In their situation, refugees need simple, fast, low cost and sustainable solutions, which is what we are providing with these classrooms,” di Marco told The Jordan Times, referring to the SuperAdobe technique used in the project.

SuperAdobe is a form of earth bag architecture developed by architect and CalEarth founder Nader Khalili. Using long sandbags, barbed wire, on-site earth and a few simple tools, the revolutionary building system has been published by NASA and endorsed by the United Nations, according to online sources.


Categories: Arab World, Asia, Jordan

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