with the ‘beyond survival’ safe space, architect rizvi hassan continues to introduce community-centric, bamboo structures within the rohingya refugee camp, a temporary ‘city’ which sprawls across five square miles of bangladesh. while the massive camp hosts more than six hundred thousand rohingya refugees from neighboring myanmar, the newly built ‘beyond survival’ safe space offers rohingya women and girls a place of retreat, serving as a place for learning, creating, and sharing. the architect comments on the rapidly growing refugee camp: ‘how fast a landscape changes is quite astonishing to witness and how fast people cope is more of a surprise. the influx happened august 25th of 2017 and since then rohingya refugees, local hosting communities as well as the reserved forests of teknaf area have gone through unimaginable changes.’

rizvi hassan beyond survival
all images by rizvi hassan



the project, designed by rizvi hassan, offers young women and girls of the rohingya refugee camp an opportunity to gather and retreat with the ‘beyond survival’ safe space. the project comprises a socially engaging design and build process which served to benefit participants of all genders. the team took note that male participants from the camp were eager to involve their family members — wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters — with the center’s activities. rizvi hassan comments: ‘we have heard stories, how women of the community went through brutality and sacrifices to save their family. and then it is relieving to see their men working with love to make safer spaces for them.’ the ‘beyond survival’ center becomes more vibrant and personalized with colorful patterns painted by the community. 

rizvi hassan beyond survival



with the ‘beyond survival’ safe space, the architect favored simple materials which were locally available. as the project had been constructed quickly and on an emergency basis, the structure was built using untreated bamboo — a material which will decay in few years and will be replaced with treated bamboo. the roofing material is made up of straw and waterproof tarp, a composite which must be changed in one year and replaced with alternative durable materials for longer use.

rizvi hassan beyond survival



while the project’s interior is expressed with vibrant, cheerful colors, the exterior appears more ‘ragged’, visually integrating with its natural and built surroundings. its texture and color palette draw influence from the ‘paner boroj,’ or betel leaf, often seen in the surrounding rice fields. the designer elaborates: ‘it is also very near to an asian elephant habitat and one can often see elephants getting down from the hills at the backgrounds. the material and exterior scheme avoids disturbance for elephants. however, red and yellow colors don’t distract elephants either so was used for interior court and several openings.’

rizvi hassan beyond survival rizvi hassan beyond survival rizvi hassan beyond survival rizvi hassan beyond survival rizvi hassan beyond survival rizvi hassan beyond survival rizvi hassan beyond survival



project info:


project title: beyond survival: a safe space for rohingya women and girls

architecture: rizvi hassan

location: rohingya refugee camp, alikhali, teknaf

design team: shah alam, rizvi hassan (architect), saad ben mostafa (architect), biplob hossain (engineer), hasan tarek (engineer), shahidul islam khan, tahrima akhtar, sheikh jahidur rahman, abdullah al mamun, abdur rahman, kala hossain, anwar, and others

client: forcefully displaced myanmar nationals (supported by unicef & BRAC)

photography: rizvi hassan