The Damascene shelter

Due to the spreading effect of the eleven-year-long war in Syria, numerous cities are left lacking proper resources, medical resources especially. without other choices the poor patients and their families was forced to sleep in the streets or hospital corridors of Damascus city. The Damascene shelter has become the last hope for them.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Designer(s) : Abdulghany Tarbeen

University : University of Damascus

Tutor(s) : Kindah Mousli

The major problem:

Due to the spreading effect of the eleven-year-long war in Syria, numerous cities are left lacking proper resources, medical resources especially. People from varying cities throughout the country are forced to travel to Damascus to receive medical treatment. Given the widespread poverty in Syria, most of those arriving does not have private cars of their own to travel between cities, forcing them to stay in Damascus for the duration of their treatment. In addition, Damascus hotels are scarce and intended for tourists, often those with above average incomes. Such reasons left patients and their families no choice but to sleep in the streets or hospital corridors. For these reasons, I feel, as a Syrian architect, it is my responsibility to find a proper solution.

The solution:

By proving temporary housing, on par with financial ability, patients’ families will have their basic needs met without compromise. All while still providing the thermal, spatial, visual, and auditory comforts of a typical hotel.

Calculating the required number of beds:

1- Official government sources.

2- Electronic Survey Results.

3- Other Factors (the possibility of vertically extending)

The final bed count required and achieved through this project is 1872 beds.

Design process:

The importance of reducing the room rent to the minimum while making a profit for the investor is vital. Therefore, it was necessary to make a connection between need, sustainability, cost, and investment. This was achieved through several standards within the design process:

A- Land selection:

  • The direct connection of the land with the Abbasid bus station, which links the various Syrian cities to the city of Damascus.
  • The suitability of the target group with the surrounding society.

B- Benefiting from The Damascene architecture:

The Damascene people had been developing their house over centuries to suit the local climate.

C- Diversity of rooms with different needs:

To make the room rent flexible, three types of rooms have been suggested:

1- Non-family residence rooms:

It is similar to hostels, so it’s a same-gender room. Each room has 8 beds ( Bunk bed ).

2- Family residence rooms with services:

Each room can contain up to 4 people

3- Family residence rooms:

Each room can contain up to 2 people.

D- Making the building sustainable at the lowest possible cost:

Since the number of hot days outweighs the number of cold ones, the building was designed to adapt to the summery season, by using a passive cooling techniques and thermal insulation which would also help in adapting to the winter season.

– Non-family residence rooms:

In this type of unit, the structural system is brick with a thickness of 40 cm (including thermal insulation) spread over two floors.

passive ventilation:

– The cross-ventilation technique was used in all rooms through the main window in each room, which is offset on the other end by an opening above the door (Mandaloun), a technique that was also used in the old Damascene houses.

– Wind catchers are also present to bring fresh air to the inner atmosphere and blow the badge air out.

– At the ends of the corridors, a natural Indian technique is proposed.

The communal spaces:

Along the project, the common spaces are scattered.

Natural lighting:

In both rooms and interior corridors, the lighting is natural during the daytime.

Electrically self-sufficient.

Family residence rooms:

In this type, the structural system is different, which is a core system with concrete blocks walls. I used the (Mashrabiya) in the windows, Wooden windows with small openings.

Natural lighting:

The interior corridors are illuminated with openings to the common spaces scattered along the two tall buildings.

Passive ventilation:

The distribution of common spaces between the floors caused the creation of a vertical spiral air tunnel that allows the old air to be drawn upwards to exit from the end of the building. As in Non-family residence rooms, the rooms of this type completely used cross ventilation technique.

E- The perfect investment:

The challenge was to find an investment capable of bringing enough profit to the investor in addition it has to suit the condition of the poor patients’ families and the residents surrounding the project land. The proper investment was the Market stalls.

The Concept:


Cities in Syria are divided into seven regions, including Damascus. Therefore, the idea was to divide the Stalls into 6 main sections, each representing a region of Syria, in which to display some of its culture and products. More importantly, people coming from different regions will find the goods and items that they feel comfortable with, so they will feel as if they were in their home.