What leads to vulnerability and why is the present solution not working? What is the reason for the inefficiency of the inside-the-camp market? Why is the uniform function of the market unable to prepare the inhabitants of the camp to their transition into the outside world and instead leaves them vulnerable and unadjusted. Looking for the possibilities of further destinations for the refugees after leaving the camp and their possible occupations in the outside life. Finding out the skills necessary for their survival and being able to earn the living outside of the camp. Attracting the volunteers, who could help the refugees to learn the languages and moral principles of the surrounding states and the world around them.
According to the public data, the refugee camp already has some important infrastructure – shops, cafes, recreational centers, schools, churches. There is also some kind of trade going on. Despite that, the trade inside the camp does not ensure its existence as an independent self-sustainable system, the maintenance of this camp takes more than 500 thousand dollars a day.
Since the inhabitants of the camp have absolutely no paying capacity, it makes sense to direct the trade efforts outwards, using as a launching pad the closest developed country – Israel. In the world of modern technologies the e-commerce has proved as the least cost-intensive way, sparing the expenses necessary for opening the shops in the vicinity of potential end-buyers. All that one needs is a warehouse to store the goods. Since the land-price in Jordan is lower than in the economically developed countries it is more profitable to store the goods intended for sale in Jordan before they are shipped. There are already good examples of successfully organized e-commerce, such as Ali Express, E-bay, Amazon.com. They all offer a wide range of production, but the suggested platform will have something that they lack – a philanthropic aspect. By buying furniture, or objects of folk art here, the people will know that they are helping other people in the hard situation.
But it is not enough.
The people, who do not have any initial capital, nor anything to make their product from, can only sell their experience and skills. Often they do not even have the most necessary things, such as food, water, clothes and place to call home. Thus we need to, first of all, provide them with a multifunctional framework, where they can implement their skills even if they themselves have no means to start their own business. It is also important to help them develop the skills, which may help them after the transition from the camp into the outside world, primarily – the learning of foreign languages, so that they could at least be able to perform such simple tasks as cleaning, selling goods, etc. We suggest that the working facilities need to be combined with the education, by forming the groups of 30-50 refugees per one volunteer, a foreign language teacher, who will work alongside them and help them develop their language skills during the working day, by teaching them the terms they will need for work.
The marketplace as the international object can help us preserve and spread the unique culture of different nations – their drawings, woodwork, national jewelry, furniture, carpet-weaving. There should be groups divided by function: extraction and gathering of the raw materials, their transportation, sorting, preliminary and final processing. And the final sale of the production will be carried out through the internet.
For the members of the most vulnerable groups of refugees, the marketplace will be more like a workshop for the production of consumer goods, as well as the warehouse for their storage, since the mere re-selling within the camp does not aid the purpose of self-sustainability.
More than that, one such project will not be able to solve the problem. There should be several. But at least, we can try to stream-line the business-processes, happening in such a place, using this pioneering project. The scheme, involving an entrance into the international market, may in the long run help bring the local business out of its current shadowy existence, which should hold a certain interest for the local administration and government as well.
Thus, the newly created platform will address two main problems at once – the problem of self-sustainability and the problem of adaptation of the refugees to the realities of the outside world. By selling to the solvent purchasers the camp will gain profit to compensate the cost of food and water that is delivered there and currently paid for by the outside supporters. Involving the volunteers in the working process of the camp inhabitants will also help the latter to study both the language and the main moral principles of the developed countries, where later on they might work as service personnel or in other low qualification jobs.
In the situation of a limited budget, it is direly necessary to make the most of the local construction materials: wood, brick, clay. But if we want to adapt the world-view of the camp population to the global society and its living principles, we need also to pay heed to the global standards of architecture and design. By involving the local inhabitants in the construction process we will provide them with much needed working places, but the project as a whole must be led by a professional. It is also important that without the volunteers it will be hard to effectively organize the collective work of the inhabitants of the camp and the project workers. At the same time, if the construction of this object will be carried exclusively by professionals, the locals will have no opportunity to study and practice the low qualification jobs in such an in-demand sphere of work as the construction industry. In the course of their work they can learn the names of the materials, so that they can work as the loaders, the different colors, so that they can work as house-painters, learn how to keep order on the construction site, and maybe even something more.
In our project we suggest the use of a wooden framework for the bearing columns, the roof-bearing trusses and the wall-outline. The filling of the walls can be made both of the wire cloth or of the inter-weaved branches, much in the same way as they are used for baskets, fences and rattan furniture. It will protect the inner space from sun, wind and dust, but will allow the air to circulate freely. The roof may be covered either by sheet metal or straw.
The architecture of the market itself should express the equality and openness of each member of the camp society to another. They need to have an opportunity to freely learn from each other, and in the open way study the culture and skills of their co-inhabitants. We suggest a slightly modified circular form. As the product passes along the circular route it will gradually come closer and closer to its final form, and on the other side you will be able to see another product being made etc. People can also walk among the rows and learn from each other.
The approximate space of the roofed part of the marketplace constitutes 9500 m2. If we assume that for each person we need 1,2 m2, the total visitor capacity of the marketplace will constitute 8 thousand people, that is 10% of the whole population of the camp. If the population grows and so should the market, one can also use the space within the ring, which is around 5000 m2. This inside space can also house the mobile stands and kiosks, sheds and other small shops.
In the case of a change of economical, political or social situation in the country or the world as a whole, the market building can be easily adapted to house a school, a hospital or a living space with beds by connecting the utilities system. What is also important is that in the case if the camp is relocated to another place, the remaining building will not harm the nature, since it is built exclusively of the natural materials – wooden walls and straw roof.