A. Objectives of the Competition

  1. Documenting and preserving the Palestinian landscape with its village and town structures on the basis of their pre-1948 scale.
  2. The re-establishment of the physical bond between the original inhabitants, their descendants, their families and the Palestinian homeland.
  3. Revival of these villages as discernable centers for a rich cultural lifestyle in present day context.
  4. Using the pre-1948 data provided, to re-interpret, re-construct and re-develop the modern network necessary for the survival of the new 'urban' village. This will entail, albeit with difficulty, connecting to the already built network of roads, water resources and service grids, established by the Israeli occupation.
  5. Re-constructing the organic physical environment of the place in a modern context, yet imbued with traditional and local values to produce the special vernacular architecture whichcharacterized the Palestinian physical environment.
  6. An understanding that each of the ten matrix regions in Palestine had, pre-1948, its own character shaped by its agricultural and cultural footprint. Each region displayed a particular architectural character shaped by that particular typography, location and climate.
  7. The ability to work on the elements of an organic urban-village plan which contains all the social, educational, cultural, agricultural and health institutions necessary for its survival.
  8. The use of symbolism (like monuments, historical landmarks, architectural features) as a reminder of and a physical link to the 1948 traumatic events.
  9. To use this competition as a blueprint for the implementation of the Right of Return under International Law. This last objective is of paramount importance.

B. Nakba Background

In order to understand the intrinsic past-present essence of the competition, it is essential that the competitor be fully aware of the Nakba dimensions.

Al-Nakba is the biggest tragedy in Palestine’s 5000-year history. It has been going on since its tragic birth in 1948. It’s essential ideology and practice are the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from their country, the seizure of their land and property and the erasure of their geography and history.

The following file describes this tragedy in 47 pages supported by maps, tables and references. It is a must read for all participants. The file is an extract of The Atlas of Palestine 1917-1966, published by Palestine Land Society, London, 2010. The Arabic edition was published in 2012. Both are available online at: www.plands.org/en/maps-atlases

Read this pdf carefully. Al Nakba Background

C. Provided material and references

The available data in this website is provided in the following manner:

  1. Excel table showing the available villages and their districts. It is to be noted that the name of the village should be always be linked to a given district. Palestine had 16 districts and over 1000 towns and villages. In this competition about 500 depopulated and/or destroyed villages are potential subjects for this study. For the purpose of this Competition for the year 2016-2017, only 100 villages are available for selection.

    100 Competition Villages.

  2. In this website, we generally provide six maps, an excel tableand a report, all in Arabic.
    These are:

    M1.1 the village built up area (BUA) location.

    M1.2 the village land area showing place names, natural features and landmarks such as mosques, churches, schools, cemeteries, sheikh/weli/maqam, antiquities, wells and so on.

    M2.1 aerial photo of the village if available or a drawn map of the village as best as possible based on sketches drawn by the village residents.

    M2.2 Digitized plan of the village houses as far as can be ascertained. When available, the names of the house owners are given. The list of house owners isnot needed for the Competition but may help to visualize the future design of the village and the hamula or haret house distribution. Note that, although the information obtained from various sources which may not be complete, it give a reasonable picture of the village as it was.

    M3.1 The land area of the village today (circa year 2000) showing new roads and Israeli settlements on the village land where relevant, while showing the old landmarkson the same map for reference back to the original village.

    M3.2 A modern satellite image of the village site as it exists today. It is remarkable to see that most village sites are still vacant. Most of Kibbutzim (Israeli settlements) were built away from the original village sites. Therefore the new village could be built on the same old location. See a further note about village sites later.

    The excel file shows the list of house owners as accurately as possible. As stated above, this is not needed for the Competition but it helps show the distribution of each hamula and the village public places. A typical village social structure is usually made up of about 4 to 5 large families (hamulas) in 4 or 5 neighborhoods (harat),usually referred to by their direction: Al-harah Al-gharbiya, sharqiya, shamaliya, qibliya.

    The report lists in 11 points the following information: the population of the village at different times, its land area, its geography and history, its families, education, agriculture, crafts, water resources, antiquities and holy sites, description of Israeli attacks and occupation, the path of expulsion, present exile and the remains of the village today. Population at any other date may be obtained from official sources or increased tentatively from that given at 2008 by net growth of 2.7%.

    There could be in the website more illustrative maps and photos if available. Alternatively some of this data may be missing or combined with other villages.

    It is to be noted that some village combination are to be treated as one, when a major village has satellite villages or sister villages. For example, the following should be treated as one:

    Al Ghabisiyya with Sheikh Daud and Sheikh Dannoun.

    Tarbikha with Suruh and Nabi Rubin.

    Batani Sharqi and Gharbi

    Sawafir Shamaliya,Sharqiya, Gharbiya.

    References are listed in the village reports. All participants are encouraged to do more research by examining the given references, finding new ones, consulting the web where much information is posted by the village people and through interviews with the village elders.

    The information given herein is the bare minimum. More research should be carried out by the participants. For more maps about the village and region you are encouraged to consult, for example: www.plands.org/ar/maps-atlases and for references, see General References. The main references consulted in this project are those by Dabbagh, Khalidi and Abu Sitta, shown in red.

D. Codes and Symbols

The codes and symbols used in the maps are given in this link:

Map Symbols in Arabic

E. Design guidelines

Some of the general guidelines will be mandatory as will be noted. Participants are encouraged to come up with creative solutions.The political circumstances of Return and the rebuilding of the village are yet uncertain but this should NOT be a hindrance to creative and unusual solutions for this Competition.

  • Population

    Population has increased nine-fold or more since 1948. See first page of the report, which also shows the number of UNRWA Registered Refugees, with other data.

    Residential areas should be provided for new population as projected for the next 25 years or one generation lifetime on the same village site. The density of the village population in 1948 was calculated for 240 typical villages as follows:

    Density : person per donum number of villages average value District
    5- 28 29 20 Al Khalil, Tiberias, Gaza
    30- 51 28 37 Various districts
    53- 100 7 78 Safad
    100- 500 8 257 Acre, Haifa

    It is clear that the average density for most villages is about 40 persons/dunum (40 per 1000 sq.m.), as it was pre-1948, except in coastal area like Acre and Haifa Districts where the respective densities rose to 250 persons/dunum.

    Accommodating present population, which increased nine fold since 1948, produces higher densities, which may meana high-risedevelopment solution. It is essential to rebuild on the same village site, with the necessary urban extension of built up area and without gross reduction in the fields or encroachment on historical features of the site. The number of people who will use the village as their permanent year round home will vary according to their employment but they must all have potential residency.

  • Education

    In pre 1948 there was a one or two room primary school in the village. Now literacy among Palestinians is near 100% for both sexes. Today, every village boasts of hundreds of university graduates and dozens of post-graduates. This trend must be carefully considered in the Competition design. There should be several kindergartens, primary schools and a number of high schools. Vocational schools are encouraged to accommodate students who will serve the industry in the village without leaving their place of residence.

  • Health

    The village will require several clinics, which cater specially for children and mothers-to-be. Depending on the size of the village, a hospital may be designed, perhaps serving nearby villages as well. In this respect, the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and regulations must be strictly followed.

  • Water

    The village traditional water sources, e.g. wells, springs, ponds, must be preserved and protected, at least for historical reference. Weather sites, such as winter pools, ponds (birket), common in many villages to collect and store rain water, should be taken into account, where relevant.

    The drawing down of wells by Israel’s Mekorot may be reversed or reduced in the future. Without going into details of the villages’ future situation, it shall be assumed that it is possible to make use of the present Mekorot water supply system.

  • Roads

    Old village roads or tracks leading to the village from main roads have been removed or erased by Israel. Asphalt and main roads of 1948 have been kept and expanded. For the present day status, please consult the Return Journey Atlas (RJ) at:


    Hard copies of the book (RJ) may be found in the bookshops shown in the website (How to Order).

    Also copies of the Return Journey and Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966 are found in every UNRWA school.

    The participants may create a new road to the village site branching out of the nearest existing numberedroad system in RJ. The necessary transport facilities, such as buses, taxis, rail (if village is onrailway line), sea transport, as in Tantoura,  should be considered.

  • Historical features

    Palestine is the treasure house of history. Many villages are at least 2000 year old.

    This fact may be reflected in the Competition design through the creation of urban elements such as monuments, mausoleums, visitors’ vista points and museums. They should commemorate the following:

    • Muslim and Christian historical figures and shrines.
    • Important monuments and battlefields, e.g. Salah Eddine Al-Ayoubi.
    • Al Nakba and Palestine recent reference sites: battlefield sites,1936 Revolt, martyrs remembrance like Abdel Qader al Husseini, Ezz Eddine Al-Qassametc.
    • Special memorial sites for the martyrs of the more than 70 massacres which took place in 1948 and thereafter, listing the names of the village victims. See list of these events in Table 3.2, pp 92-97 in Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966.
  • Religious and Other Sites

    Mosques, churches, maqams, shrines, Sheikhs, welis, cemeteries in their old sites must be restored, renovated and sign posted. Traditional religious events such as Nabi Rubin, Nabi Mousa, must be referenced, if applicable. Although not religious, social or commercial sites should be considered, such as the weekly village market and the site for celebrations and meetings (saha).

  • Village Sites

    Our study has shown that two thirds of destroyed village sites are still vacant. Reconstruction of the village on the same old site is an essential requirement; it is possible here without removal or incorporation of existing structures. One sixth of the village sites is partly built over. The new design should incorporate or remove the existing structures. In all, about 80% of village sites are available for reconstruction. Twenty per cent of village sites are built over now. This is, as to be expected, around Tel Aviv,  south of Haifa and west of Jerusalem. Even in this situation there are ways to restore and rebuild the destroyed property. There are lessons to be learnt from the reconstruction of Bosnia. For the first competition, however, we have selected 100 village sites which are largely vacant. A small percentage of sites are partly built over. This is intended to test the creativity of competitors. They could remove the existing structures if not relevant, incorporate them if useful or if they signify a positive or negative meaning to be preserved.

  • Economic Characteristics

    This is the most difficult item to predict. In pre-1948, 100% of villagers worked in agriculture. Now the percentage varies between15% to 25% depending on the availability of agricultural land. Even when the land is restored back to its owners, today’s modernized agricultural system will consequently reduce the number of manual labour. Therefore allowance should be made for 75% of population to be involved in:
    • light agricultural industry such as marmalade, jam, dairy products, fruit preservation and olive related industries.
    • computer services, mobile telephones and communications
    • light industry, aluminum, carpentry, car repair.
    • communication with other relatives living abroad by means of social clubs, travel, family trees etc.
    • general services, employment.
  • Social Activities

    There should be a provision in the Competition design for the inclusion of the old public meeting place (saha), weekly market, sports and sports clubs, playing fields, social and meeting clubs (or madafa), etc. Another provision should be made for renewed contact with family members and friends who may remain in al shatat. For this purpose the village would likely have a new website (or an improvement of the village websites of today). Al ‘Aidoun (the Returnees) Club should be formed in the village. Although those returning for a visit will be hosted by their  family members, it will be necessary, anyway, to build a hostel for them and their foreign friends.

  • Village Matrix Regions

    To assist in maintaining and keeping alive the vernacular architecture, Palestine 1948 is divided into 10 vernacular regions.

    Matrix Regions Tables and a map.

    The Map shows the regional matrix—10 areas.

    The Table shows a listing of the 10 regions, their areas, their characteristics and the number of de-populated villages in each region.

    As indicated above, each of the matrix regions has similar features in terms of traditionally available building materials, terrain, climate and access to roads and sea. Benefit of similar matrix may be gained from existing villages today. For example, design of villages in mountainous regions can benefit from nearby existing villagesin the West Bank and upper Galilee, by acquiring/duplicating certain features, depending on the value of gained experience.

    On the other hand, the process of reconstructing villages in southern Palestine will have little to gain from the crowded Gaza Strip. The reverse lesson is true. It is an example of the need to avoid crowded conditions.

    Beer Sheba (Bir Al-Sabe’e) villages have a unique case. Design for the new Beer Sheba villages could, for example,follow that of the Texas ranches, with widely spaced clusters of houses, about one kilometer apart,  located in the fields of the land owners. A similar case in Palestine is the distribution of bayyara houses and their fields near Jaffa and along the coast. This example is followed in the case of Israeli Kibbutzim built in the Beer Sheba district. All the other amenities of the villages should be built in a central complex serving several ranches.

    F. Submission Method/ Technical Requirements

    Each Competitor shall be required to submit the following documents, text material and illustrated boards:

    1. Design submissions shall be uploaded electronically at 72 dpi. The Competition submission, in addition to being digitally uploaded, must also be submitted to the jury on A1 boards, as indicate below.
    2. A maximum of 4 No Boards sized A1: 594x841mm (23.4x33.1 inches), in a horizontal/landscape format. Any submission in a Portrait format will be rejected. No appeal will be entertained. A PDF version of the entry should be submitted.
    3. One A4 visual image of the setting of the design (landscape format) should be provided for publicity purposes. This will be used in the online Competition Gallery. A JPEG version of this image should be submitted with low (72dpi) and high (300dpi) resolution.
    4. The Competitor must upload the design to the Competition Digital Entry System by the deadline of 17:00 Hours Local Palestine Time on Tuesday 8 August 2017
    5. There is a 25MB size limit for uploads and competitors must ensure their total upload does not exceed this limit. Any problems must be notified to the Competition Committee.
    6. Black & White and Colour content (diagrams, maps, texts, illustrations, sketches) will be acceptable within the A1 format noted above.
    7. Drawing Requirements:
      1. General Master Plan of the scheme to scale 1:500;
      2. Longitudinal Section(s) and Cross-Section(s) as appropriate to illustrate the hierarchy and massing of the scheme to scale 1:20;
      3. Elevations as appropriate to best illustrate the massing of the scheme to scale 1:20 if possible.
    8. The competitor shall submit a maximum of 500 word document (maximum 2-A4 pages) outlining the design concept, the principles and objectives of his/her entry to enable the jury members to readily understand the basic concept and design drivers behind the entry.
    9. No architectural models are required, but the competitor may submit (if space allows on the A1 boards) B&W or colour images of model studies which may have been used in developing the competition design.
    10. Each board shall include, along the bottom of the board, in a box no more than100mm (in height) the following information:

      The Title of the Competition as shown on the website, the Unique Registration Number (URN) of the competitor as allocated to him/her once selected by the University, the name of the University and the date of entry as noted on the Competition website. At the extreme right-hand side of this title box, the competition shall number the boards in the order he/she wishes the jury to view them (i.e. 1 of 4, 2 of 4, 3 of 4 and 4 of 4).

    11. Each of the Competitors should bear the Unique Registration Number (URN) – with special attention to Condition 13 below regarding anonymity of submission.

      URN should be as follows:

      bzu** for Birzeit University, Birzeit.

      iug** for Islamic University of Gaza

      njh** for Al Najah University, Nablus

      The two stars indicate the student number in that particular university, from 01 to 04, max 4 students. For example, iug02 means the second competitor from Islamic University of Gaza.

    12. This is an evolving yearly competition, and for this first stage, no models or 3-dimentional material objects will be required.
    13. All submissions shall be anonymously and securely wrapped in brown paper without any indication on the front of the package of who the entrant is and which university he/she belongs to. Any diversion from this condition will render the entry null & void. It will be disqualified upon receipt.
    14. The deadline for posting the entries by the universities is 17:00 hours Local Palestine Time on Tuesday 1 August 2017. A postmarked receipt from the posting/shipping agency must be retained by the competitor and a copy sent to the Competition address, as proof in case of unforeseen circumstances.
    15. Actual Competition boards submission must besecurely packaged and sent, via an International Courier such as DHL or FEDEX,to be posted RECORDED DELIVERY or shipped VIA DHL or FEDEX SHIPPING AGENCY) to the following address, unless otherwise revised in due course, labeled THUS: Competition for Reconstruction of Palestinian Villages, c/o: 58 Aldbourne Road, London, W12 0LN UNITED KINGDOM.
    16. Jury deliberations will take place during the month of August 2017 (most likely venue will be in London). The winning entries will be announced by 17:00 Hours local London Time on Friday 1 September 2017.
    17. The Competition results will be published on the website after written notifications have been sent to the winning Competitors.
    18. The presentation of the awards will be held in a major European Capital (TBC) and it is envisaged that an accompanying exhibition of the winning entries will be arranged for that time and place (TBC)
    19. The First Prize winner will be expected to commence his/her travelling Fellowship during the month of September 2017. As soon as the First Prize winner is announced, then his/her university must commence travelling arrangement (visas, passports, permits, etc) to enable the winner to commence the travels no later than the 15th September 2017. The most likely country for this Travelling Fellowship will be Italy.
    20. Competitors are expected to honour a confidentiality agreement to prevent information of the winning entry being leaked to the Press. The organisers are the sole agent responsible to the Press or public.
    21. None of the promoters of this Competition, the Committee members, their advisors or the Jury members shall be contacted directly or indirectly for information about this Competition. Non-adherence to this condition shall disqualify the competitor and his/her university.
    22. No member or employee of the promoting body, the Jury or any partner, close associate or employee of them shall be eligible to compete or assist a competitor in this Competition.
    23. No member or employee of the promoting body, the Jury or any partner, close associate or employee of them shall be eligible to compete or assist a competitor in this Competition.
    24. All competitors must be a full-time academic student in a recognised Palestinian university in Palestine.
    25. Please note that late entries will not be accepted and the digital system will not permit uploads after the deadline noted above. Please allow sufficient time for any technical issues which may arise i.e. slow internet speed/connection, closure times of couriers, etc.
    26. Competitors must not release their designs for publication to any 3rd party until after the result has been officially announced and only after permission in writing has been received from the Competition Committee.
    27. The Competition Committee reserves the right to publicize the Competition, any design submission, and the result in any way or medium they consider fit. Illustrations of any design - either separately, or together with other designs, with or without explanatory text - may be used without cost. Once anonymity has been lifted, authors will be credited and recognized in all associated media and publicity forums.

Competition for the Reconstruction of Palestinian Villages

BRIEF to Universities

  1. The invited university shall at its earliest opportunity, not later than the stated date, select the four students who will enter this Competition and who, should he/she wins top prize, will represent the university internationally.
  2. The invited university shall appoint its representative/coordinator for this competition to liaise between the university body and its selected entrants on the one hand, and the Competition Organising Committee on the other.
  3. The university shall give the Coordinator’s name and credentials.
  4. The Coordinator’s duties will include receiving and using the important user and password details for the selected village data on the Competition website.
  5. This Coordinator will facilitate the flow of information between the Competition Organising Committee and the university, and subsequently filter this information down to the selected students.
  6. The Coordinator will assist the students in creating URN, for updating of information, notices, and for keeping a strict control on the Timeline for this Competition.
  7. The Coordinator shall explain to the students the necessary procedures governing this Competition including the supervision and delivery of the submission documentation as set in the Competition Technical Requirements.
  8. The university shall pay a non-refundable Competition Entry Fee of $150.00 for each student entry. This fee will secure and guarantee the university registration and participation in this important Competition.
  9. The Competition Organizing Committee consists of Dr Salman Abu Sitta, PhD, MIStructE, PEng, Antoine Raffoul, B.Arch(Hons), RIBA, ICOMOS (UK), Chartered Architect and the staff of the Palestine Land Society.
  10. The Awards shall be as follows:

    First prize:

    $2000 (TWO THOUSAND U.S.DOLLARS) and travelling fellowship in Europe for two weeks to provide the student with a practical learning first hand experience of similar projects which have been successfully executed. In addition, the student will meet and exchange views with the architects/administrators of such projects.

    At the end of these travels, the student will be required to submit a report to the Competition Organising Committee no later than 31 December 2017.

    Second prize:


    Third prize: