Elastic Territories: Resolution planning for Har Homa/Sur Bahir
Attitudes to occupation are generally dismissed as being free from having any spatial resolution. But in cases, and specifically with reference to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the control of space has been reinforced by the physicality of tools such as architecture and urban planning—most visibly in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem. Despite such constraints, the idea of alternative collaborative spaces is an intriguing and growing area of speculation in the region. This thesis takes the position that resolution planning through public policy and planning can be an effective tool for the rethinking of space in divided cities. A framework for this research and implementation has been initiated by the following projects in the region:
1. Wahat al-Salaam/Neve Shalom: 1970 to present. Status- built
Located in the 1949 Greenline; a jointly established Palestinian Arab and Israeli Jewish village; (1,800 people/set to double by 2012 from 50 to 91 families)
2. Hand in Hand Schools: 1998 to present. Status- built
Three locations: Jerusalem, the Galilee, and Wadi Arak. 12 schools centered around Jewish-Arab education in Israel as a network of integrated, bilingual schools combining peace education and top academic standards. The mission is to increase peace, coexistence and equality between Jews and Arabs of Israel (approximately 1,100 students in total)
3. Museum on the Seam: 2005 to present. Status- built
Located in Jerusalem; a socio-political contemporary art museum presents work of artists from Israel and abroad in order to raise controversial social issues for public discussion.
4. Mosaic Communities: 2003 to present. Status- not built
Located in Ramle. Youth Center/Performing Arts center + future proposal for desegregated housing. The youth project is meant to become a joint business cooperative and training program that can increase economic prosperity in the city, and provide local services for Arabs and Jews in a mixed setting.
Given these precedents, the thesis will apply these concepts to an area where conflict over space is most controversial. The decision to place the design proposal within the “seam” between two populations is to test the idea of collaborative spaces as a method of resolution planning within the most extreme physical division of space. The analysis of this dynamic (settlement and village/occupier and occupied) in the southern part of the West Bank (Har Homa and Sur Bahir), is a microcosm of this extreme divide
The design proposal for this thesis recognizes that communities in Israel are highly segregated, resulting in ongoing hostility and misunderstanding between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The opportunities for integrating these two groups are minimal as each are independent and share almost no co-dependencies, let alone spaces of exchange. This project intends to open up discussions for what may facilitate resolution planning through a shared border condition between both populations, with emphasis on education becoming a mediator for exchange.