16 August 2012

Building Sumud Project to exhibit at the 2012 Venice Biennale

Building Sumud Project

An architectural design by a team of two PhD students, Mick Scott and Elisa Ferrato, and one of the Development and Emergency Practice Master course alumni, John Lewicki, has been awarded first place in the “Small Scale Interventions” category in the [UN]Restricted Access design competition organised by Architecture for Humanity.

The competition called on designers from around the globe to imagine and develop an innovative reuse for any of the world’s many abandoned or soon to be decommissioned military spaces. An unprecedented number of 510 teams from 74 countries responded to the highly topical challenge.

Building Sumud Project

The Brookes-based team's proposal, sited in the Old City of Hebron in the Occupied West Bank, is aiming at creating a research and workshop centre in a vernacular building of the old city with a broad agenda of advocacy, action-research initiatives and empowerment of local researchers and artists from the civil society. By its activities it is aiming at an active, civic-led demilitarisation and reclamation of public space.

Hebron is a unique city in the West Bank as it is the only one with Israeli settlements at its centre, where more than 500 settlers and over 1,500 Israeli soldiers live among 30,000 Palestinians. The many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian population have severely disrupted civilian life leading to deserted public spaces, community isolation and environmental degradation. The winning design, appropriately named PLUG-In Hebron (People Liberated Urban Gaps In Hebron), seeks a reversal of this process.

PLUG-In Hebron's initiative and agenda are an integral part of the Building Sumud Project, led by Dr. Brigitte Piquard, reader in Humanitarianism and Conflict, at the CENDEP (Centre for Development and Emergency Practice) of the school of Architecture (Faculty of Technology, Design and Environement). The Building Sumud Project is a multidisciplinary initiative investigating the interaction between the spatial, architectural and social impacts of occupation and conflict and the opportunities brought by architectural and spatial projects on conflict transformation and on resilience.

The winning design will be displayed at the Venice Architecture Biennale between the 29th August and 25th November and then go on a world exhibition tour.