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Rooftops and Refuge 

Shelter Global Density Competition



Constructed in Jordan for Palestinian refugees, Baqa’a was meant as a temporary haven for those fleeing the Arab-Israeli war. Today, the camp has been in place for nearly fifty years. Despite a growing population, the camp’s borders have barely expanded beyond their original limits. With more than 100,000 inhabitants, Baqa’a is facing inadequate transportation infrastructure, minimal green spaces and gathering spaces, and limited access to water, food, and other basic supplies.


The idea of the roof lies at the core of this project. Conceptually, building a permanent roof means living permanently in a certain space. Therefore, our project does not touch the temporary roofs in Baqa’a. Instead, we imagine a secondary, performative layer on top of these roofs that redefines the ground condition in Baqa’a. This new, elevated ground provides rainwater collection, urban farming, shelter, shade, and gathering spaces. These new rooftops are supported by a steel frame that hovers over the existing buildings and links to the rooftops next door through lightweight bridges. Proposed activities repurpose many of the materials that one could expect to find in the Baqa’a refugee camp. 


This project also imagines an olive tree farm and an olive processing facility. The farm would create a porous landscape that could soak up excess water during heavy rains.The farm includes a building that would celebrate and teach the art of turning olives into olive oil and soap. By including both commercial and educational components that honor a culturally significant technique, this open space would provide jobs and become an anchor for community activities.


This project operates at both the building and the urban scale. While the building scale deals with rooftop spaces and the olive tree farm, the urban scale analyzes Baqa’a through an infrastructural lens. We propose two main streets that bisect the camp along north-south and east-west lines, to facilitate the delivery of food, water, and other supplies. These main streets would also help promote the existing market streets while beginning to connect existing services. For example, community wayfinding signs could direct students from the high schools to the Agricultural Research Center.

This competition submission was completed along with Adria Boynton and Hana Makhamreh. 

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