Refuge in the Rubble
Refuge in the Rubble is a design for the province of Basra, Iraq offering shelter and safe community for orphans of war. The project draws on traditional middle-eastern design and seeks to raise awareness of overlooked issues in Iraq.
The theme of the EP Exhibit 2016 is It Takes a Community. Selected projects showcase the best work from young designers highlighting community impact and engagement.
Located in the province of Basra, Iraq, this complex is nestled at the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. As well as becoming the gateway into the new Iraq by sea, it is grounded where the ancient Garden of Eden was. As a symbol of renewal and a blossoming of a fertile new generation, the orphanage is housing for orphans aged birth to pre-teens, with vocational schooling focused on work that can be taught to give back to the community, such as agriculture and sewing. An open air market, an auditorium, a prayer room, a park, and a memorial also inhabit the land; communal amenities that stitch the town with the school, a nod to a progressive thought of "safety without walls.”
Taking a typology from several precedents of community, the orphanage is a megalith design of a traditional middle-eastern courtyard house, raised on pilot is to invite the sea breeze as well as the town residents, creating a concrete canopy among the clusters of palm trees.
Utilizing several aspects of refuge, the orphanage is an ad-hoc rendition of what it means to be safe in the midst of hostility. How can architecture help regain our trust in ourselves and in our nation after the dust settles? Whether it be a space for the one or the one hundred, we must reverse the dismembered and war-torn psyche of our children, by offering a roof, some bread, and a blanket. With no hand to hold they will grab rifles.
My hope is that this thesis is not sought out as just a building, but rather a billboard that raises awareness of this overlooked issue and the future of a decaying nation.