BATTIR INTERNATIONAL SUMMER PROGRAM
A TEACHING RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP:
UNESCO, Al-Quds University/Bard Honors College, Decolonizing Architecture
Supported by The Battir Village Council
An International Summer Research and Internship Program in “Urban Studies and Human Right in context” will take place during the summer of 2010 in Battir, Palestine, bringing together students, architects, NGO staff, and village officials. The project is the first collaborative venture in a developing partnership between the Al-Quds Bard Honors College, the UNESCO /Battir Landscape Office, and the Bethlehem-based collective Decolonizing Architecture. The residency will involve 10 international architects and artists, 15 students from the Honors College, local and internationals experts invited for lectures and seminars and will take place from the July 1 to August 31, 2010.
The summer program will focus on the relationship between space and law in the “Area C” of Palestine. Looking at legal mechanisms from a spatial perspective, the project moves between the examination of geopolitical models and the analysis of concrete case studies in an attempt to promote critical reflections on the paradigmatic characteristics of the Palestinian territory. We propose to examine how conflicting spatial interventions are influencing and are being influenced by legal frameworks and procedures, and how de facto situations are molding this elastic geography. In “Area C”, space and law seem to influence each other in the making, almost right at the very moment their production. Are spaces designed by the law or should we rather talk of the lawmaking of spatial practices? Who are the actors involved in this process? What are their modes of operation? How would it be possible to map the intricacies of this condition? How do financial and economic interests infiltrate the cracks of this splintered geography and take advantage of its volatility? What creative possibilities could this situation open up? How do human rights and international law discourses contribute to the development of these structures and which tools do they provide to deconstruct the colonial condition?
The research component consists of an international consortium of architects who will spend the two months investigating the urban fabric and landscape of the village of Battir. Working closely with the UNESCO/Battir Landscape Office, the assembled research team will generate a final project that is scheduled for public exhibition in Oslo, Norway and Los Angeles, US. The research will consist in the production of integrated architectural models and planning strategies designed to address the specific civic, social and environmental challenges facing the village of Battir. The aim of the research cluster is to enrich and support the UN Joint Program (UNJP) by proposing to it a series of planned interventions in the area of Battir and its surrounding villages.
Summer Course in Urban Studies and Human Rights
The second integral component of the summer partnership between the Al-Quds Bard Honors College, UNESCO and Decolonizing Architecture consists in a rigorous summer course for a select group of the Honors College students. Dr. Alessandro Petti and Valentina Azarov will teach the course, “Urban Studies and Human Rights in Context,” with the involvement of international and local scholars and legal experts. The course is designed to combine substantial academic engagement with the theoretical principles of urban planning and human rights, as well as practical, hands-on experience of working in a UN agency alongside professional planners, human rights organizations and community leaders. In addition to academic writing and research, students doing the program will attend conferences and seminars, and will conduct basic field-work. The summer course will offer a group of 15 students the unique opportunity to develop their knowledge of crucial and emerging professional and academic fields in Palestine through a series of contemporary case studies examined and scrutinized with the expertise and guidance of local and international professionals from a range of disciplines.
For further information about the Program and the work done by students during its first session during the summer of 2010, go to the Program’s website here.