Evaluating ‘Pocket’ Public Spaces in Al Wehdat Refugee Camp, Jordan: Challenges and Opportunities

Dana Hamdan, Bayan El Faouri, Tarek Teba, Amro Yaghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main objective of this research is to evaluate public 'pocket' spaces in Al Wehdat Refugee Camp, Jordan. the paper aims to identify the challenges associated with implementing pocket space upgrades and make visible some opportunities that enhances their socio-economic viability. By doing so, the research seeks to contribute to providing long-term solutions for refugee settlements, going beyond basic shelter provision, and creating community facilities and public spaces to enhance the living conditions and well-being of camp residents. The study addresses three key questions: What are the different types of pocket spaces in the camp? How do community members perceive their potential uses? What are the challenges and opportunities for implementing pocket space upgrades in Al Wehdat camp? The research utilised mapping and semi-structured interviews, which revealed various pocket space types. This exposed distinct pattern of public space appropriation within different camp zones, including informal privatisation of public space, linked to the spaces' morphology rather than ownership. Community preferences for upgrading strategies differed based on pocket types, with small-scale greening and place-making strategies favoured in informally privatised pockets to maintain privacy, while parks or playgrounds were preferred in mixed-use areas. The research found that the main challenge facing public space upgrades lies in the conflicting dual management structure between UNRWA and the local municipality, necessitating administrative strategies for long-term improvement. Community involvement and heritage preservation proved crucial for sustaining upgrades. While specific to Al Wehdat, the findings offer insights into creating community public spaces in refugee camps and informal settings, potentially benefiting other long-term refugee camps.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUrban Research & Practice
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2024


  • Refugee camps
  • Pocket spaces
  • Circular design
  • Participatory design
  • Adaptive reuse
  • Informality


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