Beyond Survival: A Safe Space for Rohingya Women and Girls provides a much-needed community center for refugees in Bangladesh. The building was designed by architect Rizvi Hassan and is made from inexpensive locally-sourced materials like bamboo and straw.
The community center was created with the support of BRAC, Unicef, several United Nations agencies, and the Bangladeshi government. It’s located in Rohingya Refugee Camp 25 and serves forcibly displaced Rohingya women and girls, providing them somewhere to learn, wash in safety, and seek support.
The community center’s layout consists of activity rooms, a store, counselling room, and an area for adolescents arranged around a central courtyard. The building was decorated by the women and girls themselves, and bathrooms and toilets are located nearby in separate blocks.
It’s situated near an Asian elephant habitat and the women were concerned that the animals could come and disturb the site, so the overall design is meant to help it blend in with the landscape and not draw their attention.
“The exterior of the structure is ragged and tries to blend within the context (camouflage),” says the architect. “The texture, color and setting are inspired by the often seen ‘Paner Boroj’ (Betel leaf shades) within rice fields. On the other hand the interior has the colors vibrant enough to make a cheerful essence.”
The construction process took around two months and the building consists of locally-sourced untreated bamboo, as well as straw, rope, and tarpaulin. The materials are only going to last around a year or so, after which time they’ll either be replaced with fresh bamboo and straw or something more durable.
The first phase of the project was completed in late 2019 and the community center is now in use. The second phase, including the landscaping, is due to be finished soon.
Source: Rizvi Hassan
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