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Jarahieh school

Shortlisted for the 2017-2019 Aga Khan prize, Jarahieh School for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon is an example of the power of the environment and architectural design in constructing a sense of belonging, the result of a participatory design process conducted by CatalyticAction.

Floornature - November 06, 2019

DPU alumni speak at the Strelka ‘Future Architect conference’ in Moscow, Russia

“Architecture is not just about building, but also about adapting processes and seizing opportunities for community empowerment”

UCL news - November 01, 2019

Sustainable design in an unstable world. How architecture helps solve social problems.

"We do not just coordinate the construction, we build together with the communities we work with"

Snob - September 18, 2019

Beyond Refugee Housing: 5 Examples of Social Infrastructure for Displaced People

In an effort to address issues of psychological trauma and to ensure healthy development, this school playground provides a safe space for refugee children to play...

ArchDaily - June 20, 2019

Creating Inclusive Urban Space in Lebanon

The space had been reconfigured through a process called ‘co-design’. Citizen scientists through street and in-depth interviews, focus groups and other forms of public consultation had established...

Medium - June 02, 2019

Practicing Participatory Design

How a collaboration between Bartlett academics and a charity founded by alumni enabled Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian residents to co-design a public space that works for everyone.

Bartlett 100 - April, 2019

How to Design Playgrounds for the World’s Most Vulnerable Kids

How to provide spaces to play and prosper for children living in urban poverty.

CityLab - February 07, 2019

From India to the UK: the youth-led solutions (em)powering communities in need

And young people are already leading change. The Youth Solutions Report series, launched by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network — Youth (SDSN Youth), proves just that.

Medium - February 07, 2019

Collaborative team from DPU and IGP facilitate a participatory spatial intervention in Lebanon

The intervention took place in Bar Elias alongside Catalytic Action and aimed to address vulnerability through infrastructure...

UCL news - January 08, 2019

Part III: The Power of Place

Co-Designing the Resilient City A conversation with Riccardo Luca Conti, architect and co-founder of CatalyticAction, based in the UK.

Medium - December 25, 2018

LafargeHolcim Awards an V

« Cette coopération a permis de transmettre différents savoir-faire qui resteront au-delà du projet, et de construire des ponts durables avec la communauté locale. Cette école n'est pas juste une école. »

L'orient LE JOUR - September 28, 2017

From battleground to playground

This project is founded on the belief that children have a right to an education, to feel safe, to play and to develop confidence in themselves.

Design Indaba - May 10, 2017

Architects amidst conflict

...they could use their expertise and experience to respond to the calamity by providing child-orientated spaces in refugee camps that employed humanitarian design.

ArchitectureNow - April 11, 2017

With the Jarahieh Refugee School, CatalyticAction Demonstrates the True Potential Of Temporary Structures

If you do several smaller-scale projects, it will affect the bigger scale

Archdaily - March 2, 2017

At the edge of education

So the design challenge was to make suitable temporary structures and create a model for future humanitarian aims. Interestingly, elements used in Milan for decorative purposes are used here as rain protection.

Damn n.59 (printed issue) - November 2016

Experts to Watch: Innovating Refugee Response

CatalyticAction is transforming a pavilion used by Save the Children Italy at the 2015 Milan Expo into an education facility to meets the students’ needs...

News Deeply - August 3, 2016

How Migration Will Define the Future of Urbanism and Architecture

Of course, one school, adapted from a single expo pavilion, will not change this situation alone. But Catalytic action is hoping their example will lead to greater change.

Archdaily - July 5, 2016


Playing is what children do best, so imagine using the act of playing in design practices as an empowering tool for communities.

Boundaries n.16 - April 2016 (printed issue)


CatalyticAction verstehen ihren Spielplatz nicht nur als Projekt für Kinder, sondern als Raum der Verständigung, ein Ort, der die Menschen wieder mündig macht.

GARTEN + LANDSCHAFT - February 2016 (printed issue)

Ibtasem Playground for Syrian Refugee Children, CatalyticAction

I particularly like the way CatalyticAction’s design mingles sport and play; too often the sporting field and the playground seem to be spatial enemies, and this is unnecessary.

Play Scapes - January 11, 2016

The ‘Ibtasem’ Playground – 5 steps to designing a successful child friendly space

Syrian children fleeing to neighbouring countries add up to more than half of the total refugees.

Child in the City - January 7, 2016

Speelplein als oplossing voor vluchtelingen crisis

Door de Syrische crisis zijn veel vluchtelingen naar Libanon getrokken, waar de VN een reeks opvanglocaties heeft gerealiseerd.

Buiten Spelen - December 22, 2015

Catalytic Action designed and built a playground for refugee children

Using input from children in Bar Elias, Lebanon, Catalytic Action designed and built a playground for a school developed to serve refugees.

Design Indaba - December 14, 2015

CatalyticAction Designs Playgrounds for Refugee Children in Bar Elias, Lebanon

CatalyticAction are advocating for a design that questions the definition of a playground in an emergency response.

ArchDaily - December 8, 2015

Play! A Bottom-Up Design Process in Lebanon

The innovative process behind this project is not merely in its supply of playing facilities [...] but rather in its exploration of opportunities that enable the children to design the playground themselves.

This Big City - November 20, 2015

Bar Elias, Lebanon: Playgrounds for Refugees as Emergency Response

Flexibility within the original design allowed for the children to become a key part of the construction process; through the introduction of small art projects, urban agricultural initiatives and sports training.

Architecture in Development - October 12, 2015

Playground for Syrian Refugee Children

[...] an international and interdisciplinary group of students and professionals has promoted the creation of a play- ground in the courtyard of one of these schools, which serves four surrounding camps.

Lotus n. 158 - October 2015 (printed issue)

Participatory architecture and art for Syrian children in the refugee camp

[...] it is important to remember that in addition to the needs of food and medical care, the refugees are also a cultural emergency.

Il Sole 24 Ore - September 30, 2015

Basket freestyle con i bimbi profughi. Da Move: «Basta una palla per superare le differenze»

Hanno comunicato a gesti, con gli occhi e il sorriso, secondo quel codice universale che è il linguaggio del corpo di fronte a una palla.

Corriere Sociale - September 27, 2015

A Playground for Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon

The team of CatalyticAction felt that it was important to focus their own relief efforts in reprioritising children within this crisis, as little is done to tackle the psychological trauma that they experience.

The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (UCL) - September 4, 2015

Playground For Refugees

Ibtasem (“smile”) is an innovative project to provide Syrian refugee children with a playground. The initiative is led by CatalyticAction; a not-for-profit design studio who are working to re-prioritise these children within this crisis situation. - June 10, 2015

CatalyticAction’s Playground Puts Children at the Center of Relief Efforts for Syria

ArchDaily: Could you elaborate on how your design creates an environment that is both safe and a vehicle for learning architecturally? - June 5, 2015

Un Campetto per i Rifugiati

Se l'ltalia e l'Europa faticano a gestire l'ondata di nuovi immigrati dalle cost dell'Africa, pensate in quale delicatissima situazione si trova il Libano, paese con poco più di 4 milioni di abitanti che ospita oltre 1.2 milioni di rifugiati siriani in fuga dalla guerra civile.

Eco di Biella - June 1, 2015

Un Parco Giochi per I Bimbi del Libano realizzato Grazie a un Ragazzo di Rho

Scivoli, altalene o giostre. Passando in rassegna i propri ricordi è difficile non trovarne almeno uno associato a queste parole.

Settegiorni Rho - May 29, 2015

A Push to Build a Playground for Syrian Refugee Children

“The first step ... is bringing education. The second step would be to offer the children a space to just be children.” - May 26, 2015

Progetto per Realizzare per i Bambini un Campo Giochi in un Campo Rifugiati

Il progetto IBTASEM si presuppone di far fronte a questa mancanza di educazione e di attività di supporto psicologico attraverso la costruzione di uno spazio di gioco.

Il Biellese - May 26, 2015

Ibtasem Awesome Modular Playground and Workshop in Lebanon’s Bekaa

We must all work together to make sure these kids are educated, feel safe and most importantly, enjoy their childhood. - May 20, 2015

Building a Playground With the Power to Heal

A non-profit design studio that works internationally with projects that can garner the potential to catalyze change in society, CatalyticAction, has taken on a new project. - May 18, 2015

How Playgrounds Can Change the Lives of Syrian Refugee Children

The playground has been designed with the input of the children themselves, who completed participatory exercises that allowed them to express their own ideas and aspirations. - May 18, 2015