Beyond the walls: a community centre at the Bethlehem Psychiatric Hospital, Palestine

Assignment: Architectural design for a new community centre at the Bethlehem Psychiatric Hospital, Palestine
Services: Preliminary Design, Detailed Design 

The new community centre at the Bethlehem Psychiatric Hospital aims to improve the health and well-being of the Palestinian population. Specifically, the project consists of renovating a service building within the hospital to reuse it for cultural and social activities. A social cooperative of patients of the structure will manage the centre, following the model of the famous psychiatrist Franco Basaglia.

The Palestinian health system operates in a complex political and economic situation that affects the health of the population. The protracted crisis in Palestine has had devastating consequences, impacting women, men and youth, and has recently worsened considerably.

Against this background, the overall objective of the initiative is to improve the health status of the Palestinian population by strengthening the health system. The intervention focuses on the specific field of mental health, particularly in the area of social and professional integration of patients. They will have access to opportunities such as work grants, social enterprises and service cooperatives. In addition, the opening of the facility to the surrounding community will encourage fruitful social exchange.

Community centre features

The community centre will feature a new welcoming entrance and transparent fencing to prevent separation between patients and the wider community. The building will also include conference and function rooms open to outside visitors, and garden areas where cultural events can take place.  A vegetable garden will ensure local food production and sale to the outside community.

The challenging conditions of the area in which it is located make the environmental sustainability aspect particularly important. The building will be highly insulated, with energy-efficient window frames and a shading system to minimise energy consumption. Solar power generation will ensure that the centre can function in the event of a power failure. The centre will also include a water management system to harvest, recycle and reuse rainwater. The aim is to create a highly resilient building that also qualifies as a Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB).

The project is promoted by AICS – Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in collaboration with a team of mental health experts from ASUGI in Trieste for support in socio-health aspects and with the technical-design support of TAMassociati.

  • Place: Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories
    Client: AICS - Italian Agency for Development Cooperation
    Status: on going
    Design: TAMassociati
    Consultants: Climosfera (MEP Engineering)