Urban Conservation & Regeneration


The work of this research group investigates the impact that conflict has on the production and perception of architecture, space and place making, as well as the effects that architecture, space and place have on conflict. Most of the research takes a multidisciplinary approach, linking anthropology, sociology, history, architecture and urban planning. Our research emphasises the crucial role that architecture and built heritages play in the occupation or dispossession of land and space resulting in various forms of urbicide or spaciocide. But the research also highlights the potential for conflict transformation by architecture and built heritage.

Observatory of Symbolic Violence

Current research of group members and PhD students includes:

  • Investigations of the role of heritage on resilience and conflict transformation in the old city of Hebron.
  • Impacts of the Separation wall and the occupation system on the everyday life of local population.
  • Meanings and impacts of symbolic violence on space and place making.
  • Spatial strategies towards resilience, sustainability and resistance.
  • Perception and input of the architecture of occupation on everyday architecture.
  • History of the construction industry and architectural profession in Britain during the Second World War.

Current projects and recently completed publications include:

Building Sumud Project

The Building Sumud Project

The Building Sumud Project is an action-research initiative focussing on the occupation of space and on acts of resilience adopted by Old City Hebronites in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). ‘Sumud’ (Arabic) which translates as ‘steadfast or perseverance’ is a non-violent Palestinian ideology which aims to circumvent the occupation by developing alternative routines, institutions and practices through which to mitigate its effects. The Building Sumud Project is founded on the ethos of multi-disciplinary research and has a specific emphasis on the social and spatial consequences of violent environments. Through monitoring the interaction between the social and environmental impacts of the occupation and acts of Sumud, the project aims to highlight and implement architectural and social interventions towards conflict transformation.

The project has three aims:

  • To contribute to the research areas of home and place attachment, hardship, symbolic violence, coping strategies and adaptabilities.
  • The practical conceptualisation of these research areas in order to translate research into empowering strategies.
  • The creative conceptualisation of multidisciplinary research linking design projects and artistic initiatives to strengthen interdisciplinary cooperation.



Old City Hebronites speak of their hopes for the future, the effects of illegal settlements on the Old City of Hebron, and life under the Israeli Occupation.

Observatory of Symbolic Violence

Observatory of Symbolic Violence

The concept of an observatory on symbolic violence derives from the ascertainment that the occupation of the West Bank engenders a less obvious violence against Palestinian culture and identity. Symbolic violence was first defined by Pierre Bourdieu concerning societies that were not undergoing any kind of obvious armed conflict.

Symbolic violence does not only reside in outstanding events but mainly in daily life, when nothing significant happens. It corresponds to the insidious “drop by drop” politics of occupation. The suffering resulting from symbolic violence is instilled at a small dose but constantly and is therefore characterised through a normalisation of the situation. Prevalent through Palestinian society, symbolic violence can be seen in architecture, the control of space as well as narratives on space.

This project will be further linked with the issue of resilience of the Palestinian inhabitants of the Old City. The extension of the observatory to other places in the World such as Colombia, Tibet and France is in process.


  • Piquard, B. (2007) "The Politics of the West Bank Wall: Symbolic Violence and Spaciocide" in Swenarton M., Troiani I., Webster H. (eds.), The Politics of Making, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 25-35.
  • Piquard, B. (2007) "Paintings, Murals and Graffiti on the West Bank Wall: Coping Mechanisns and acts of Resilience" in Van Teeffelen T; (ed.), Challenging the Wall, Towards a Pedagogy of Hope, Culture and Palestine Series, Bethlehem, OPT, pp. 111-120.
  • Piquard, B. & Grindsted, A. (2009) "Urban Spaces and Crises", Universitad de Deusto Press, Spain.
  • Piquard, B. & Swenarton, M. (eds) "Architecture and Conflict", Journal of Architecture, Taylor & Francis; London, 2011.
  • Beech, N. (2012). "Demolition Figures: The appearance and expression of the mattockman and topman in LCC contracts, 1941–1951", Architecture Research Quarterly, 16 (3), 245–52.