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Global Design Initiative for Refugee Children

Syrian Initiative header

Credit: Ramzi Naja

The BSA Syria Initiative

View additional information, content, and statistics on Refugees, Resiliency, and Public Space in the BSA Syria Initiative.


To address a need for child-focused public space facilities to help improve the quality of life for Syrian refugee families. The initiative will establish a collaboration with design professionals in Lebanon and the Boston area in both design and implementation to design and construct a play-space in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children and the hosting Lebanese community.

Context and Concept

Over 4.3 million Syrian refugees have been displaced as of December 2015.The sheer volume of this humanitarian crisis is challenging host states to provide basic housing and community resources, and the majority of aid efforts are directed there. In 2015, 80 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon lived outside camps. The average stay of refugees is 17 years—an entire childhood.

Thank you

Thank you to the more than 50 architects, landscape architects, and design students who have participated in the project so far, and to the partners, sponsors and donors who are bringing the ideas to life:

based in Chicago and founded in 2007 by Lina Attar, a Syrian-American architect who graduated from RISD and MIT. Karam is a US-registered 501c3 non-for-profit that is dedicated to “effective and impactful ways to help the Syrian people.”

was founded in 2011 as a non-profit organization based in Lebanon. Sawa for Development and Aid is focusing on aid to Syrian refugees and is working in partnership with Oxfam. The organization has expertise in design, construction and management of facilities.

Sponsors and donors

Jim & Shirine Anderson | Judy Ellenzweig | Michael & Veronica McElroy | Katherine Anderson | Ellen Glisker Venky & Jaya Narayanamurti | Rima Bulos | Peter Herman | Judy Nitsch | Neil & Mary Cahalane | Bill & Judy Holt | Janet & Alan Ross | Chuck Cook | Susan Jones | Steven & Catherine Wofsy | Carolyn Day | Michael & MB Flanders Lauber | Chad & Susan Wisler | Kara & Tracy Dunne | Steve & Brenda Mahler | Carl & Marjory Wunsch

Academic partners

Boston Architectural College
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Massachusetts College of Art & Design
​Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Design Volunteers (Steering & Committee names in bold.)

Cannon Design
Studio MLA Architects
Wilson Architects

Nurgul Aidarbek
Haneen Almohammad
Gerald Alves III
Shirine Boulos Anderson
Dana Arazi
Nathalie Beauvais

Debra Caminiti
Kristen Bender Daaboul
Silvia Danielak
Justin Davis
Brittany Dixon
Ozge Diler Himes
Abdalla Faraj
​Michael Fiorillo
Soazig Friguel
Jason Fullmer
Jamie Graham
Stephen Gray
Peter Herman
Varak Karakashian
Amna Kahn
James Kostaras

Dragana Kovacevic
Gail Kubik
Michael Kyes
Michael Lindstrom
​Inga Leonova
Yan Liu
Dynelle Long
Ferris Masri
Ramzi Naja
Charles Newman
David Owens
Nicole Rodriguez
Daniel Russoniello
Mitch Ryerson
Elena Saporta
Marina Sartori
Patti Seitz
Hazal Seval
Ingrid Shuttleworth
Dina Soliman
Danielle Stingone
Salpie Tokadjian
Bryan Ueda
Muriel Vautrin
​Alejandra Vidal Roman
Amy Wolfson

Report on work-in progress

Harvard University Asia Center is supporting the Syria Initiative by contributing $20,000 for the construction and design of the public space/playground being built in the Dalhamiyyeh refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The Center is interested in this Initiative to pursue the scalability and reproducibility of the public space project to be able to share with other architects associations and their academic partners in the US. The GSD is also contributing $5,000 allocated by Dean Moshen Mostafavi to support a junior faculty’s project. One option being considered is to sponsor students from Boston Colleges and Universities to develop mock-up of playground elements in Boston and to travel to Lebanon to be part of design completion and construction of the project.

The BSA is providing staff support in coordination with the volunteer hours of the steering committee for organizing the initiative including a panel held in December 2016, and three workshops taking place March and April 2017. The BSA is also contributing approximately $1,000 for food and drinks at the panel and workshops.

The estimated cost for design and construction is estimated to be $50,000 and construction scheduled for June–July 2017, providing that funds are secured for the completion of the project. To donate to the project, please go to Your gift will allow for the construction of the project in June 2017.