Charlotte Dhollander | Ir. Architect | Gerechtsdeskundige | Restauratiearchitect | EPB verslaggever | 8000 Brugge | charlotte@dhollander.be0494/28.27.84

Gaza Camp's Urban Fabric

Between Suq and Wadi

At the establishment of Gaza Camp, the refugees were randomly placed in plots according to a predefined grid pattern, within the area rented by UNRWA. In these times of chaos, confusion, panic and flees, it was very important to stick together with the people you know and are closely
related to. Out if this dominant and rigid grid, shifts occurred between the refugees in order to construct their tents and shelters with families, clans and other groups from the same villages to form clusters and quarters based on their traditional, rural hosh concepts [UNRWA, 2012]. This shift from a strictly organised to a slightly appropriated arrangement introduced new social structures in local areas, resulting in different building types and different social usages of the public space. In this part of the thesis, it is the intension to discuss the observed concepts that are directly related to the urban fabric of the camp, going from the physical appearance of the built environment to the local social structures and the appointed necessities. It is the ambition to understand these concepts, to discover their qualities and potential problems, and, if there is the need, to evolve these existing practices over the camp. These concepts will be combined in a case-study, to investigate its potential local impact in the built environment and the improved qualities of the public space and its usage.

 

“Urban fabric captures the complex interplay between the physical and social structures of local areas, and the individual definitions of neighbourhood that give meaning to these environmental cues.” [Brunton-Smith, 2012]

 

Gaza Camp’s urban fabric knows numerous  limitations regarding the built environmentand the usage of the public space. Since the shelters are subject to the topography, this often results in poor structures and dangerous situations. However, it is not obvious what is causing the limited usage of the public space, regarding the concept of the commons. In order to understand these practices and to be able to provide a well-motivated and justified proposal, research has been conducted in Gaza Camp, followed by a thorough analysis of the camp and its surroundings -in Book I. A more detailed analysis regarding the camp’s urban fabric is presented in this book. The concepts of the observed social relations are studied, as well as their translation in the public space. In order to upgrade a part of the urban fabric, several tools are proposed which can improve the built environment and/or (re)introduce the common space accompanied by allowing the Wadi to enter the camp. By combining these tools in the area between the Suq and the Wadi, a first step towards upgrading the tissue is introduced. However, these tools alone won’t succeed in achieving these goals. It is important to notice that cooperation of the camp’s residents is crucial, which can be achieved through a participatory approach, based on the social structures within the camp.