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
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 2017-2018, only 150 villages are made available for selection.
150 Competition Villages.
In this website, we generally provide six maps of the village, an excel table and a report in Arabic.
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 is not 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.
The maps M1.1 to M2.2 refer to the village as it was pre-1948.
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 landmarks on 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.
The excel file shows the list of house owners, if known, 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 direction: Al-harah Al-gharbiya, sharqiya, shamaliya, qibliya.
The report lists in 11 points the following about the pre-1948 village: the population statistics of the village at different times old and new, 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.
References are listed in the village reports and herein. 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.
Some of the general guidelines are 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 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. For other dates you may use the net annual natural increase of 2.75%.
Residential areas should be provided for all population on the same village site. The density of the village population in 1948 was calculated for 240 typical villages as follows:
|persons per dunum (1000 m2) range
||number of villages surveyed
||Al Khalil, Tiberias, Gaza
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 (at 2008) since 1948, produces higher densities, which may mean a high-rise development 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 agricultural 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Return Journey (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 numbered road system in RJ. The necessary transport facilities, such as buses, taxis, rail (if village is on railway line), sea transport, as in Tantoura, should be considered.
Palestine is a treasure house of history. Many villages are at least 2000 year old.
This fact must be clearly 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 inter alia:
- Muslim and Christian historical figures and shrines.
- Historical remains and archaeologically important sites.
- 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-Qassam etc.
- 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).
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 telecommunications.
- light industry, aluminum, carpentry, car repair.
- communication with other relatives living abroad by means of social clubs, travel, family trees etc.
- general services, employment.
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.
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 central Palestine can benefit from nearby existing villages in 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.