UNHCR Jordan: Azraq Refugee Camp

Location: Azraq [JO]
Program: Community Centre,
School, Sanitation and Cultural space
Gross floor area: 2600m2

Year: 2021
Type: Academic project
Subject: Architectural Engineering

Job Schroën /
Alejandro Prieto Hoces /
Fred Veer /
Atze Boerstra

Already for over 10 years a cruel multi-sided civil war has been taking place in Syria. While much of the country has been destroyed there are still no signs of betterment. Since the beginning of the war in 2011 over half a million lives have been taken, 6.2 million people were displaced internally and another 5.6 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Currently, Jordan provides shelter for around 1.4 million Syrians. From 2014 onward the Jordanian government, with help of the UNHCR, the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate (SRAD) and other (local) aid organizations began building (temporal) refugee camps. Some probably know Za'atari camp, as it is the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world and now even the fourth-largest city in Jordan. Less known however is the Azraq Refugee Camp, located near the border with Saudi Arabia at a stone's throw of the eponymous village Azraq, Arabic for 'blue': referring to one of the very few places in the desert which has a natural abundance of water. However, until recently. Due to climate change and the unparalleled demand for water from the ever-expanding capital Amman, water has turned scarcer than never before. A desert with no water, is there an even extremer environment?

The project, "A NEW HOUSE OF CULTURE" hopes to soothe mental and physical difficulties of the camp's population by building a new community centre. The building houses a variety of program including a school, a cultural space, sanitation facilities as well as a substantial (shaded) public program and gym. The main objective is to provide easy accessible spaces for leisure, downtime, exercise, gathering and education. The building naturally adapts to the site's extreme environment by using inexpensive, abundant and durable building materials. A clear and simple architectural elaboration enables local contractors, or even the camp's population to build and maintain the building without any skilled labour in order to deliver in time and within budget.

The intention of the project is to have a meaningful impact on the lives of the inhabitants of Azraq Refugee Camp as they await a return to their home country hopefully any time soon.

Special thanks to:
Ammar Hathnawi (CARE International Jordan), Hiba Sarhan (CARE International Jordan), Jelte van Wieren (Ambassador for the Netherlands in South Sudan) and Andy Bow (Foster + Partners)

Road Sign UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Site UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Ground Floor UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Model UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Elevations UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Entrance gate UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Section UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Impression interior UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Axonometric exterior UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp Impression exterior UNHCR Jordan Azraq Refugee Camp