Arini Arini

© Ole Reinsberger

Pilots for Strategic Change in Jabal Al Natheef Workshop

Following Mapping Jabal Al Natheef, Arini launched Phase II of this project, which is dedicated to re-imagining a better environment to be adhered to the refugees’ minds through small-scale and self-driven physical interventions motivated by a need of local regeneration.

Curated and organized by Arini

Workshop leaders: ShamsArd Design Studio

Workshop contributor: Rand El Haj Hasan

Sponsor: Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East 

Guests and speakers:

  • Samar Dudin - Regional Director of Ruwwad Altanmyeh.
    Ruwwad’s social work and experience in Jabal Al Natheef.
  • Lecture by Dr. Myriam Ababsa from IFPO where she presented her in- depth research on housing statistics, housing strategies in Jordan and some past projects supported by the Government.
  • Eng. Kamal Jalouqa on informal housing in Jordan and related examples from around the world.
  • Al Amin Kably, urban planner. (via Skype from USA)

    Flexibility in the planning informal areas.
  • Kamel Dorai from IFPO
    Current research in Zaatari camp and the domestic strategies adopted by the refugees to enhance their temporary housing conditions. Throughout the lecture, Dorai draws on the similarity between Syrian refugees today and Palestinian refugees from 1947 and 1968.

The project’s strategic framework established a set of interventions designed to achieve a more habitable and sustainable neighborhood in the near term.


© Ole Reinsberger

In September 2015 the exploration of strategic design as an instrument engaging both material and social change materialized through Pilots for Strategic Change in Jabal Al Natheef Workshop; social scenarios were coupled with novel design proposals to develop physical interventions concerned with the everyday life of the camp residents. The workshop tackled the infrastructure and sustainability elements

Arini has curated a design workshop that focused on re-imagining an affordable, efficient, and environmentally sustainable neighborhood by using strategies that redefine and utilize infrastructure as mean to develop the area, this workshop tackled issues of urban sanitation, waste management, street condition and accessibility.

The architects of ShamsArd lead this workshop where they worked with the participants in two stages: five days were devoted to understanding the context of Jabal Al-Natheef and proposing solutions, followed by five days of implementation.


From left to right, workshop leaders Dima Khoury and Lina Saleh © Ole Reinsberger

© Ole Reinsberger

Dr. Myriam Ababsa © Ole Reinsberger

© Ole Reinsberger

© Ole Reinsberger


Participants were initially invited to learn about the context of Jabal al Natheef and meet with local residents. Scholars and local actors presented an overview of the area, while site visits and meetings with an array of the camp's population allowed for a deeper understanding of the physical and social fabric.

The first objective was to observe, listen, learn and empathize as much as we could in order to understand the community's intrinsic organization and needs and its relations with the local governing bodies.

Site visits allowed participants to employ their senses and record their experiences, without any personal judgments. These were translated into words, photos, sketches that opened up for preliminary brainstorming opportunities within the group.

Testimonies from a wide range of residents were as well an important contribution to the knowledge of the local context. Through which, participants were able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the community, understand what difficulties the members of the community are facing, learn how they are affecting their lives and understand how they are currently dealing with them. This initial immersion, with its physical, intellectual and emotional layers, set the grounds for discussions and exchange, resulting in a number of topics -that of safety, sanitation and quality of space- that would be the subjects of design.

With that, participants collectively developed ideas addressing the different topics. These were tested and evaluated following criteria related to the context and to sustainability, such as time and economical affordability; their ability to be replicable by the residents; their effectiveness; their cultural, social and geographical appropriateness and their durability.

Ideas were narrowed down to a number of small-scale and localized solutions, which with further input from the inhabitants and local governing bodies, were adjusted to their specific contexts.

© Ole Reinsberger

The main goal and hope is that these acupuncture interventions, part of a larger test and trial design approach, will help make a difference in improving some of the resident’s basic needs, and ultimately ripple to other parts of the camp.

Closing event © Ole Reinsberger

Click here for Mapping Jabal Al Natheef publication

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