Playspace - The BSA Syria Initiative 

Project Size: 10,000 GSF

Program: Playground, community gathering place, outdoor classrooms, cooking areas.  

Location: Bakaa Valley, Lebanon. 

Steering Committee: Nathalie Beauvais, Ramzi Naja, Jim Kostaras, Patti Seitz, Stephen Gray, Gretchen Rabinkin and Dana Arazi Levine. 

Completion: 2018

What is the place for childhood in the midst of a humanitarian crisis?


Children are the most impacted victims of the unfolding global refugee crisis. Over 5.5 million Syrian refugees are now displaced and many are children that have been traumatized by war. Humanitarian aid does not always adequately address their unique social needs beyond food, water and medical care. The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) Refugees, Resilience, and Public Space Initiative responds to this urgent need to create and expand safe environments by working with the most vulnerable Syrian refugees: the children . It supports the co-creation of places to play, socialize, and learn –and, in doing so, strengthens the social resiliency of these communities. 

What roles can design and designers play in helping refugee communities to become resilient?

In 2016, BSA members and their friends and colleagues asked this critical question. Through design charrettes held in the Spring of 2017 with academics, students, and design professionals in Beirut and Boston – and in partnership with the Karam Foundation, SAWA for Development and Aid, Harvard, MassArt, MIT, the Boston Architectural College and Northeastern University – this initiative focused on designing a playground and public space in a refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The project is now under construction with a fnal design produced by a team of architects led by Layal Merhi, all based in Beirut.

The frst playground is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017. 

Maps drawn by: Noora Aljabi

Architectural Drawings by: Layal Merhi

Images from the construction site in Lebanon
Maps of the Dalhamiyya Camp and its surrounding area 
Architectural Drawings of the Playground