The Deir al-Balah Camp is the smallest refugee camp in Gaza (occupied Palestinian territory). It is located on the Mediterranean coast, west of a town of the same name, in central Gaza. The camp initially provided shelter for around 9,000 refugees, who had fled from villages in central and southern Palestine in 1948. The refugees originally lived in tents, which were replaced by mud-brick shelters and later by cement block structures. Over 25,000 refugees now live in the camp (UNRWA). Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) in December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees and began operations on 1 May 1950. The Deir al-Balah refugee camp has a high population density and with limited access to open spaces, the residents have few opportunities to socialize in the public, common areas.
During the In Transit 2 Studio, students produced a series of architectural elements and design strategies that could be incorporated in ongoing upgrading plans for the Deir al-Balah camp.
Their proposed design concepts include: alternative volume/plot studies; addition of new public or semi-public functions that would include all demographic groups; design of “barrier elements” such as walls or façade modules; and street elements like paving, planting and integrated furniture. All proposed interventions aim to benefit individual families and simultaneously produce high quality public spaces for the common good - rather than creating public functions that are compromising privacy and vice versa. Solutions should ensure privacy, and simultaneously generate public life according to cultural practices; physical interventions that make families feel visually protected in their own private spaces but that also add quality to the streets outside. The housing typology will directly influence common space design interventions. Read more about the project here.