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Strategic Design

Al-Yasmine

Community space design for Al-Yasmine refugee camp
Challenge

This project was funded by DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) to support academic exchange between Design Akademie Berlin (DAB) and Académie Libanaise of the Beaux- Arts (ALBA). The cooperation aimed to improve the current living conditions and quality of life in the refugee camp of Al-Yasmine. Three strategic designers (including me) lead an intensive eleven-day Design Thinking workshop with the goal to develop ideas and strategies to turn an empty spot of the camp into a social space.

Approach

Design of qualitative research tools

In order to conduct field research in Al-Yasmine camp, our team gathered to create qualitative research tools. These tools were addressing a wide range of potential target groups. Our aim was to understand user needs, identified potential opportunity fields and get an overview of the living condition of the refugee population at the camp.

Some of the tools we created were cultural probes, interview guidelines, and customer journeys. The tools were designed mainly to collect qualitative information. For example, I participated in actively designing the tool for the children between 8 and 11 years old. The tool was called treasure hunt and consisted in collecting different treasures along the camp. Every station allowed us to understand the space, identified where children were playing or how do they feel in their shelter. Furthermore, the tool allowed us to overcome the language barrier, be more emphatic and discover how children build social relations with others in the camp.

Field research

The team conducted field research for two days in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. The immersion in a refugee camp as a design researcher was an experience that allowed me to reflect and challenge the way I use the design on a daily base. This field research was full of learnings and reflections. I questioned a lot how challenging is to apply Design Thinking in extreme environments or projects with a social focus.

Analysis

Back in Beirut, we lead an intensive Design Thinking workshop in which we manage to analyze the information, identified opportunity fields, note down valuable insights, ideate and prototype to come up with a solution.

Results

We wanted to create overall community building experience for the inhabitants of Al-Yasmine camp through human-centered design. Our vision was to improve the quality of life for displaced people through building up a sense of belonging and strengthening their esteem needs.

We created a space that was divided into three sections: The productive garden, the learning area, and the recreational area. Moreover, we developed an identity and several communication artefacts to activate the space.

The concept includes a participatory approach in which residents of the camp (refugees) are encouraged to participate in the construction process. This approach creates an appropriation of the space that assures a sustainable development of the idea.

The idea was pitched by the lead strategic designers to the German ambassador in Lebanon and local investors that have the interest to push the project forward.

Strategic design facilitators: Angela Garcia, Giulia Hartz, Juan Useche