Grant Programme for Architecture → Open call
Urban Lab Palestine
Extensive destruction of housing and infrastructure, displacement and insufficient shelter, scarcity of land and territorial fragmentation resulting from the Israeli occupation in Palestine are among the main challenges facing the Palestinian human settlements today. The massive scale of physical damage suffered after the 2014 conflict in Gaza has displaced over 500.000 people. Many are housed in refugee conflict camps or temporary shelters, while others live in the ruins of their cities and villages. At the same time, settlements have seen an influx of displaced people, leading to uncontrolled development and expansion in the cities and around the fringes of towns, encroaching on agricultural land. Beyond damaging the housing stock, the crisis has left Gaza with significant damage in road infrastructure, water, electricity and waste.
The damage has been devastating for the livelihood of Palestinians, as the already fragile economy dependent on Israeli policies and restrictions has been further impaired by the physical destruction of many economic centres and a great deal of agricultural land. In the Palestinian town of Khuza'a the post-conflict situation of 2014 is persisting to this date, as the international community has been hesitant to step in and rebuild the town under the Hamas-led de facto government of the Gaza Strip.
Recently, UN-Habitat has taken the initiative to show that a participatory design approach can work in post-conflict situations and has assembled a local team of planners (NTSC) to support the Khuza'a municipality in drafting a master plan, under the motto 'Build Back Better'. Working in a challenging context, with limited logistics and resources, the team of international experts are helping the local partners develop a new and innovative approach to urban reconstruction that could be tested in Khuza'a and replicated in other areas in Gaza.
Eric-Jan Pleijster – LOLA landscape architects, lolaweb.nl
Naomi Hoogervorst – Freem open architecture, freem.eu
Martin Sobota – CITYFÖRSTER Rotterdam, cityfoerster.net
Peter Vanden Abeele – Maat Ontwerpers, maatontwerpers.be