Teknaf, Bangladesh, 2019

Photo courtesy of Rizvi Hassan

Safe Space for Women and Girls was built to allow Rohingya refugee females to advocate for basic services. It is a space where they can freely and safely discuss abuse and violence, and a place where they can learn to create and share.

Bangladeshi architect Rizvi Hassan collaborated with Bangladesh- based NGO BRAC and UNICEF to design and build this project. As an initiative led by local organisations, the project aims to provide a positive example of how by being good hosts, and by sharing ethical ideologies, conflicts can be prevented.

The project was built using local materials (untreated bamboo for the structure and straw/hay with tarpaulin for roofing) and by hiring local labour from the refugee camp where it is located. The site is within a cyclone-prone area, so the design avoided materials that could be hazardous during high winds. As the building is located near an Asian elephant habitat, its exterior walls avoid visually disturbing elephants. Material choices were also made in line with the temporary nature of the refugee camp.

The project engaged the community during its design and construction process. This had multiple positive impacts and, in particular, men who participated in the construction were eager to get their family members (wives, daughters, mothers, sisters) involved with its activities. This was seen by the project partners as a major achievement, as many existing centres had reported that men were unwilling to see their family members attend.

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