Reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp

Location: Tripoli, Lebanon
Architect: United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), Nahr el-Bared Reconstruction Commission for Civil Action and Studies (NBRC)
Client: United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), Beirut, Lebanon
Completed: 2011
Design: 2008
Site size: 190’0

Aerial photo of “Sasa’a” neighborhood with the camp adjacent areas | AKAA  / Abdelnaser Ayi


Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp before reconstruction | AKAA  / Courtesy of architect


Reconstructing a camp of 27,000 refugees which was 95% destroyed during the 2007 war involved a planning effort with the entire community, followed by a series of eight construction phases. Limited land and the exigency of recreating physical and social fabrics were primary considerations. Established in 1948, the camp followed the extended-family pattern and building typology of the refugees’ villages. In a layout where roads provided light and ventilation, the goal was to increase non-built areas from 11% to 35%. It was achieved by giving each building an independent structural system allowing for vertical expansion up to four floors on a reduced footprint.

Aerial photo of “Sasa’a” neighborhood | AKAA  / Abdelnaser Ayi


Residents discussing the masterplan on a walk-in map | AKAA  / Courtesy of architect


The community has been fully involved in the planning process, which represents an impressive model of civic participation. Each family was able to work with the architects to design their new homes according to their specific needs, including those with disabilities.

In April 2011, the Agency celebrated a milestone in the reconstruction when the first families began returning to their newly built homes in the camp. As of October 2011, more than 300 families have received the keys to their new homes and some local businesses have been able to return.

The reconstruction of the first three school buildings, in the UNRWA compound within the camp, has also been completed. This has allowed more than 2,400 primary and secondary school students to relocate from overcrowded temporary schools.

View of a courtyard | AKAA  /Ismael Sheikh Hassan


A fishermen House roof | AKAA  /Ismael Sheikh Hassan


Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp – Axonometry | AKAA  / Courtesy of architect


Project video


For Saba Innab“s reflections on dwelling click here

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