Hanan Rawashdeh

Hanan Rawashdeh

Torrance, CA, US


Al Salam Schools

Masters Graduation Project:

Chair Supervisor: Shannon Mcdonald (

Architecture, the dwelling of human interaction has been proven influence its dwellers behavior, where certain actions are always linked to a type of building.  For instance, when one thinks of a library, an image of people quietly roaming around the spaces within comes to mind, where as an Emergency Room quick frantic movement and possibly various loud shouts from people is imagined. But what comes to mind when one thinks about a middle or high school building? An image of students sitting attentively in class, chattering happily about their social lives and school matters? We picture things of what is expected of it. Or depict ideas from previous experience of how things should be. Sadly a new phenomenon has reached our time and changed the image of an educational space. Violent incidents have been witnessed on school grounds. Violence that is other than the regular bullying, teasing and sometimes theft typically found in schools. Aggressive behavior has accumulated and intensified to reach mass shootings and suicides. So the main question in this thesis is: Can architecture prevent such violent behaviors? Is it possible that a well thought school design can create a safe haven where students can flourish?            This thesis research is investigating the cause of these violent events that current US schools face and that this thesis seeks to prevent through the design of a school building, how it functions; socially, psychologically and spatially in order to create a safe haven.    Understanding the needs of students today is crucial. How they interact with spaces. Which spaces are targeted most for violent behaviors and which tend to be more controlled and maintained? Case studies of different mass shootings and surveys that show percentages of targeted violent places are presented in the thesis.             Furthermore, the questioning of whether to face this public health issue by fending off the issue once it occurs?  Or attempt to eliminate the roots of the issue itself? Thus, the word “peaceful” and the discussion of architecture’s role in influencing its
Al Salam Schools
dweller’s behavior in such a way to relieve negative relieving thoughts through architectural design in an indirect way.             Also, how can one balance creating a socially positive and relieving environment and keeping an orderly designated space that maintains the ultimate goal, which is receiving education that sometimes can be intensively demanding and stressful? Research on new ways to design for accommodating 21 century education methods and protecting students is covered in the thesis.             The goal of the thesis is to create an innovative approach to designing defensive spaces without having an outcome of a rigorous fort for students to feel like soldiers. But, to create a safe educational environment that can welcome any stressed student and accommodate their needs indirectly. Defensiveness, Tranquility and Dynamic is the three word combination that will be the main objectives and design driving elements for achieving peaceful school in this thesis. These three main objectives will correlate and interweave through suggested and previously implemented techniques in designing spaces; crime prevention through Environmental Design, Spiritual spaces and changeable accommodative spaces.

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Status: School Project