In September 2014, the School for Girls in Shufat refugee camp in Jerusalem, designed by DAAR for the UNRWA Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Program, opened its doors to 1000 students. The design of the school is inspired by the experimental educational approach cultivated by Hilal and Petti in Campus in Camps. This approach is devoted to the formation of learning environments where knowledge and actions are the result of a critical dialogue among participants, and in direct connection with communities where the interventions are taking place.

The aim of the project is to contribute to experimental education in the school of Shufat by claiming that the reform in education should take three main actors into consideration, the teachers, the students and the space of the school where teachers and students are interacting together. The way UNRWA schools are designed limits the way of conceiving education with the teacher standing in front of the students and feeding them information. The design of the school of Shufat aims to encourage and inspire teachers and students to interact in a different way.

The basic design cell for the School for Girls in Shufat is a hexagonal form in which students are equally invited to participate in the class discussion, whether in an indoor classroom or in the outdoor gardens. In the next phase we would like to accompany this process by conducting a course composed of nine workshops that will take place in the school of Shufat and will involve the architects of DAAR that design the school and teachers and students. The materials that will come out of the discussion from the course will be used a base of a book for students and an exhibition that will narrate the architecture of the school of Shufat.

The aim of the book and the exhibition is first of all to create a sense of ownership and pride among the students, teachers and the community of Shufat refugee camp towards their school as a reference and engine of change in experimental education in the West Bank. Second, to distribute the book to other UNRWA and Palestinian Authority schools in the West bank and the diaspora and to introduce it into the art class curriculum as an introduction to understanding the significance of architecture in the camp. We believe that this could become a mechanism to strengthen the importance of art education in schools, which until today has been mostly relegated to a free hour without any academic structure. Third, that through the book and exhibition we will influence the way educational spaces are conceived. We wish that space becomes an essential pillar to the reform of education and that it can become an influential factor in the daily lives of Palestinian children who spend more than eight hours a day in school.

This course will take place in the school of Shufat, where through working sessions with students and teachers, we will reflect on the role of architectural space in education. The teachers and the students will be exposed to the book writing process and the production of material for the exhibition.

Sandi Hilal