AUB architecture students proved that the right design could help rehabilitate and re-assimilate juvenile delinquents into society, rather than leaving them feeling ostracized and in a permanent clash with their environment.
Proposing designs for a juvenile detention center – the theme for this year’s Fawzi W. Azar Architectural Award, 10 AUB fourth-year architecture students submitted projects that aimed to help juvenile delinquents reintegrate into society to lead normal, productive lives, once their sentences were served.
Instead of one winner, the jury this year chose two: Christina Attiyeh and Ali Khodr, who will split the $15,000 prize that will cover part of their final year in architecture.
Jury members Nabil Azar, Jacques Liger-Belair, Jean Pierre Megarbane, and Sinan Hassan all agreed that both projects were similarly sensible and elegantly crafted.
“The presented designs for this year’s contest are fantastic,” said Nabil Azar, representing the ‘Azar Family’ and ‘Builders Design Consultants’ during the announcement of the annual winners of the ‘Fawzi W Azar Architectural Award’ on 27 October 2014 at the AUB Department of Architecture and Design. “This makes us hope that next year even better ones are to come.”
Participants were given three months to come up with designs for the center to be located on a triangular plot of land adjacent to Horsh Beirut. The planned complex would be expected to house 200 inmates, their guards, living quarters as well as all the adjacent educational and recreational facilities. No budgetary constraints were imposed on the students for their proposals.
For Attiyeh, the center was a “journey of progress, and a progress of a journey,” a project title that immediately grabbed the attention of the jury.
“I wanted to create and establish a link between the public and juvenile delinquents in order to improve their respective views of each other,” said Attiyeh. “The use of windows will also allow the public a glimpse into the delinquents’ world thus removing the fear barriers and facilitating their reinsertion and acceptance back into society.”
Attiyeh used chose locally-available construction materials, such as concrete, for her design, delimiting the triangular site with a fence-like structure to enclose all the facilities inside.
In order to keep delinquents optimistic about life, Attiyeh designed cells that progressively went from dark, dim-lit spaces ones that are exposed to light though the addition of windows and scenic views. “This makes the delinquent feel that there is hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel,” she explained.
Meanwhile Khodr took on an unconventional approach towards the design of a juvenile center by allowing the park to run through the building. “The center constitutes a very positive and promising image in the city, where passers-by can cross the park beneath the metallic pillars of the structure,” he said. “By being on top, it allows the inmates to see the city around them…I wanted to create a visual connection whereas the people on the inside would not feel cut off from the rest of society.
Jury member Nabil Azar noted that the jury chose Khodr’s project for “its unconventional volumetric design and relation to the park, and its icon-like image that shapes the city.”
Meanwhile, Attiyeh was also considered a winner for her design’s “subtlety and her sensitive approach towards her clients, in this case the juveniles themselves, catering for their needs and allowing them to feel at home and to dream of a better future.”
The ‘Fawzi W. Azar Architectural Award’ is an annual tradition established by the ‘Azar Family’ and ‘Builders Design Consultants’ in 1996 and is based on a juried competition. Up to date 29 students have benefitted, including this year’s winners.