Hayarden School for children of refugees

Hayarden School for children of refugees

Tel Aviv, Israel | View Map
Project Year
Primary Schools

Secondary Schools
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Sarit Shani Hay Studio

Itay Benit

Hayarden School for children of refugees

Sarit Shani Hay Studio as as furniture design of the house shaped pavilion in the school's lobby

The Hayarden School, located in South Tel-Aviv, in Hatikvah quarter, educates 500 children of refugees and children of immigrants. The school was originally built in the 60's.

Designer Sarit Shani Hay, who specializes in design of pedagogical environments collaborated with architect Chen Steinberg Navon and Ayelet Fisher.The two- storey school was renovated on a limited budget as part of a pro-bono project for the community sponsored by a nonprofit, Zionut 2000.

The team chose simple and cheap ways to add elements of fun into the communal spaces, lobby and corridors. An ecological garden and playground were also designed by Lavi Kushelevich.

There is a lot of antagonism towards this population – many of whom are asylum-seekers - and the kids are the first to suffer. For years it was quite neglected and was just recently renovated on a very limited budget. The project’s brief was to create a fun learning environment with a contemporary feel, which would offer diverse ways of learning through play. With this in mind, the lobby was divided into different study areas. Four different wooden boots in different colorful geometric shapes allowing the kids to seat, study, read & play in groups or in privacy. The theme of the house was repeated in the space creating a sense of belonging. The use of color became a main them as a strong focus was put on the colorful scheme which was drawn from the different flags of the origin countries of the students. The use of strong colors is repeated in throughout the corridors: a fuschia staircase pops against a turquoise wall, with a small orange-floored sitting area underneath. Another area has concrete block walls painted yellow with a cork board design.

According to Shani Hay, the project was done in collaboration with visionary educators, who all strongly believe in the importance of aesthetic and designed learning environment for all children, especially in an economic disadvantage area, where school becomes second home for these children who mostly don’t have the safe & intimate corner in their own home."It’s at these times that I feel that design becomes a tool for social change. The power of education that can change and influence and therefore create a better life for less-fortunate kids is immense" says Sarit Shani Hay."Watching the kids on their first day of school was an amazing and emotional experience. They were thrilled with the space and showed a lot of respect for the school’s newly-renovated environment. But above all, they were deeply touched that someone had actually made an effort especially for them. The principle, Mr. Yehuda Friedman, told us that the atmosphere at the school has changed ever since: the kids have more self-esteem and there is less violence".

Hayarden School for children of refugees in Tel Aviv

STEINBERG // FISHER as Architecture, interior design & project managing

Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly from Africa, have arrived in Israel. The refugees and their families, who are considered stateless in Israel, live mainly in Tel Aviv. Over the years those refugees had children which the Israeli education system couldn’t provide with solutions that met their needs. The neighborhoods in which the refugees live have also created a political debate, with some residents and politicians seeking to expel them from Israel.


In this complex situation, the project was created at the "Hayarden" elementary school, located in south Tel Aviv. The school was built in the 1960s. Since its establishment, the school has undergone many transformations and today the school serves the children of the stateless refugees who live in the neighborhood.


The project for planning and designing the public spaces of the " Hayarden" elementary school and the establishment of a community garden in the school yard is unique in its kind and makes the learning environment modern, inviting and pleasant. The project's emphasis is not only aesthetic, but also designed to create pleasant, quiet, comfortable learning spaces and a better flow of spaces.


Ayelet Fisher and architect Chen Steinberg Navon, who planned the project, note that the goal was to adapt the public spaces to the needs of the students, but they felt that this was not enough, and that something needed to be done that would also contribute to the children's sense of belonging to where they are.


For this purpose it was decided to use the motif of a house and colorful language, which was illustrated, among other things, by the flags of the countries of origin of the children (about 25 different countries). In order to deepen the sense of home, warmth and belonging, the use of wood was chosen, especially in pavilions and terraces scattered throughout the space. The use of wood also moderates the "noise" generated by the colors in the space. The project also focuses on lighting, in order to exploit additional areas that until now were dark and uninviting.


The project is part of the global trend in contemporary design of creating colorful schools, inviting and full of creative spaces, in order to enable dynamic and alternative learning areas. Today, the design of the learning environment is based on different learning methods and spaces, which are not tables and chairs facing a panel, but also collaborative learning spaces that enable learning in small groups. The new learning methods come from creativity and thought outside the box, and accordingly the design of the school environment should be different. In the project, this is reflected in the hallway. The corridor served mainly as a transitional space, but now it has become a place where it can be studied and used for other activities.


Another thought underlying the project is that the activity of students and teachers in spaces that were designed to suit their needs and aesthetically pleasing, encourage positive, respectful and creative relationships with each other, and with the school itself.

Project Credits
as furniture design of the house shaped pavilion in the school's lobby
Architecture, interior design & project managing
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