Architects Empower Syrian Refugees To Build Their Own Schools Using Just Sand and Rubble

How incredibly simple.

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It doesn’t take gold from the belly of the Earth to build a school. Architects Pouya Khazaeli and Cameron Sinclai show that what you have around you is equally good to build a building. Especially one as badly needed as a school in refugee camps inJordan.

This is the situation. Because of the conflict in Syria, 2 million children have been displaced and are refugees in neighbouring countries like Jordan. Half of them are not in school.

According to UNICEF, “For these children, what’s at stake isn’t politics. It’s their future. Having already lost their homes, schools and communities, their chances of building a future may also soon be lost.”

To address this dire need, a simple solution RE:BUILD has been designed and developed by Pilosio Building Peace, along with architects Pouya Khazaeli and Cameron Sinclair in partnership with Relief International. Using temporary modular structures, made of wall panels formed using scaffolding and grids and filled with gravel, sand, or earth, a building can be made quickly, efficiently, and economically, and without electricity or water.


Image Source: Archdaily

Two principles make this project so empowering for the refugees- use local labourers, and use local materials. Their materials are the ground “beneath your feet” and the workers are the refugees who need the employment the most. A fine example of how architects empower refugees.

Turns out also that sand is an excellent insulator. Panels which are filled with earth may also act as rooftop farm. This simple method corresponds to the local climate as well as providing a natural life cycle that prevents the earth from pollution.

For the school in Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, nine labourers were employed, working six hours a day. In two weeks, a 16m by 16m structure is available to be used by 120 kids for them to receive education.

In these pictures are one of their working prototypes to build to School for the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. The cost and partners are listed below.

Location: Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan
Built by: Pilosio Building Peace and Syrian refugees from the Za’atari Refugee Camp
Project Partner: Relief International
Supported by: JHCO – Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization
Principal Designer: Cameron Sinclair and Pouya Khazaeli
Team: Luca Drigani, Pouya Khazaeli, Dario Roustayan and Cameron Sinclair
Total Construction Cost: 30,000 Euros
Size: 16m x 16m


An simple and cost-effective way to build walls in this dry climate.

Architects Transform Sand and Rubble Into Schools for Syrian Refugees

Panels which are filled with earth may also act as rooftop farm.

scaffolding 2



The school compound in the middle of the camp.

scaffolding 4


Artist Impression of the completed school.

scaffolding 3

(H/T and Image Source: Archdaily)

Written by Nur Safiah — Editor, Zilzar Life


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