Competition for The Reconstruction of the Destroyed Palestinian Villages 

A. Objectives of the Competition

  1. Documenting and preserving the Palestinian landscape and heritage with its village and town structures on the basis of their pre-1948 situation.
  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 discernible 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. Treatment of existing Settler structures is a separate matter.. 
  5. Re-constructing the organic physical environment of the place in a modern context, yet imbued with traditional, historical and local values to produce the special vernacular architecture which characterized 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. Affirming in practical plans the inviolability and the feasibility of the Right of Return.
  10. 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.
The Brochure in the Link below describes the purpose, history, procedure of the Competition in a recent year.
Item 1 Link: Brochure: History and Function of the Competition

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 4000-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:,

Read this pdf carefully. Item 2 Link: Al Nakba Background

C. Provided material and references

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

  1. Excel table below (Item 2) shows the available villages for selection this year and their districts. It is to be noted that the name of the village should always be linked to a given district. Palestine had 16 districts and over 1000 towns and villages. Generally in  this competition about 500 depopulated and/or destroyed villages are potential subjects of this study.

    Item 3 Link:  List of Selected Villages

  2. In this website, we generally provide six maps of the village, an excel table and a report 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, Survey of Palestine maps (if either is 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 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 village land area 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 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, if available, 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 direction: Al-harah Al-gharbiya, sharqiya, shamaliya, qibliya.

    The report lists in 12 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: and for references,
    See Item 4 Link: General References

D. Codes and Symbols

The codes and symbols used in the maps are given in these links:

Item 5a Link: Map Symbols in Arabic
Item 5b Link: Map Symbols in English

E. Design guidelines

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. See later notes by the Jury.

  • Population

    Population has increased ten-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, p/d number of villages surveyed average value, p/d Districts
    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 ten fold (at 2010) 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.

  • 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 by the Israeli occupation and expanded. For the present day status, please consult the Return Journey Atlas (RJ) at:

    Hard copies of the book Return Journey (RJ) and the Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966 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.

  • Historical features

    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).

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Item 6a Link: Matrix Regions Map
    Item 6b Link: Matrix Regions Table

    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 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 landowners. 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. Distribution of individual homes on a large land area must be preserved. However central facilities for education, commerce, services and health must be located in the hub of the village. Unlike information about closely spaced clusters of houses in a typical village, the information about Beer Sheba villages given here is limited, leaving the scope for greater creativity and foresight for participants.

F. Jury General Notes

The jury of the competition added these notes, based on previous submissions,  for the benefit of the new participants:     

  1. Overall the jury were satisfied with the outcome especially with some of the bold ideas and new modes of thinking.  We are hoping that for the following year more challenging schemes are encouraged where the students combine practical with speculative approaches, ones that can provoke critical architectural thinking with a creative edge to them that can stretch the space of imagination beyond the conventional.
  2. The Jury recommend less dependence on literal interpretation of forms like keys or peace symbol etc.
  3. More comprehensive approaches where the scale is well articulated are encouraged. An overall urban strategy that relate to the bigger scale of Palestine and view the scheme as a means to stitch back the land and the community. The link with nearby villages and organic bond with the region in various fields is beneficial. This is equally followed by zooming in to the detailed scale of building and how people interact with it.
  4. More socially-aware approach where narratives play a more strategic role in the scheme.
  5. More reference and analysis to the reports provided by the Atlas of Palestine with further analysis, reflection and criticality that dig deeper beyond the surface and celebrate the context with its potentials and opportunities.
  6. The concept of maps, mapping can be further emphasized on. There has been some outstanding maps provided as part of the Atlas with very rich data and unique information as part of the brief. These however could have been further looked into with an approach to redraw-re-read these maps – especially the ones drawn by the locals themselves to reflect the social narratives/interpretation. The competitors could have offered alternatives to re-drawings these maps through their schemes and imagine scenarios of empowerment and stitching which form a basis to accumulate more and offer the ‘counter map’ and ‘counter strategy’ that Edward Said has always been calling for in his writings. As Said noted: “In the history of colonial invasion, maps are always first drawn by the victors, since maps are instruments of conquest. Geography is therefore the art of war, but can also be the art of resistance if there is an alternative map and an alternative strategy”.
  7. In this first year’s submission, there seems to be more reliance on urban schemes or strategies. This could have been related to the specialization of the students. There is a need for further detailed design that zooms in to the building scale and moves away from the generic ideas.
  8. A suggestion for conducting a summer school in preparation of the competition was suggested and encouraged by the jury members. This is seen as mean to start the process of thinking. The summer school can be based in Palestine and abroad, and it can be in the form of short term workshops where the students get together along with the tutors.
  9.  A mentor/mentors are also suggested to look after students and accompany them in the process of thinking while the competition is in process. These can be virtual mentors from different parts of the world who can contribute with their expertise.
  10. Recent Jury remarks (September 2022):
    Five points are additional criteria of the Jury:

    1. The Importance of the projects that address context and the ideas, that the concepts of the projects emerge from the context. How the ideas emerge, where they come from, from the cultural and the physical context. 
    2. Projects that basically respond to the contemporary narratives of the village as well as their historical importance of them. The contemporary narrative is very important: the lifestyle of people and the historic importance.
    3. The innovative approach to the idea of reconstruction is very important.
    4.  Projects should propose both pragmatic and speculative schemes. Builders can dream as well as be able to be realized
    5. Projects must clearly reflect ecological awareness, given the context of Palestine and its resources.

G. Submission Method/ Technical Requirements

Item 7 Link: Competition Key Data
This link gives key data to be read carefully and followed by all students.
  1. Each Competitor shall be required to submit the following documents, text material and illustrated boards: Design submissions shall be uploaded electronically at 72 dpi.
    The Competition submission, is to be digitally uploaded,
    DIGITAL SUBMISSIONS should be a maximum of 6 No sheets sized A1: 594x841mm (23.4x33.1 inches), in a horizontal/landscape or portrait format. A PDF version of the entry should be submitted.
  2. 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.
  3. The Competitor must upload the design to the Competition Digital Entry System by the deadline of 17:00 Hours Local Palestine Time on Thursady 22 August 2024. Any submission after this deadline will be disqualified.
  4. There is a 15MB 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.
  5. Black & White and Colour content (diagrams, maps, texts, illustrations, sketches) will be acceptable within the A1 format noted above.
  6. Drawing Contents Requirements:
    1. General Master Plan of the scheme, Scale 1:500 along with an urban strategy that can ‘stitch’ the site to its outer urban context and relate to the rest of Palestine. The scale can vary subject to the concept.
    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.
    4. Visual illustrations in the form of 3 dimensional drawings that can show the scheme in context, or zoom in to some of the key details that best represent the concept.
  7. The competitor shall submit a maximum of 1500 word document (about 4 A4 pages) outlining the design concept, the principles and objectives of his/her entry and the way the village's history and heritage have been incorporated in the design, to enable the jury members to readily understand the basic design drivers behind the entry. This should be on a portrait format.
  8. 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.
  9. Each DIGITAL 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 (Palestine Land Society: The Reconstruction of Destroyed Palestinian Villages) and the logo 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 year of competition. NO OTHER INFORMATION IS TO BE SHOWN. 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).

  10. 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:

    abc** , where:

    abc = three letters indicating the university.

    The two stars indicate the following:

    00 the Coordinator; from 01 to 04 the student number in that particular university, max 4 students.
  11. This is an evolving yearly competition, and at present, no models or 3-dimentional material objects will be required.
  12. The digital submission, after receipt and checking for compliance, will be printed by the Administrator of the Competition in London on A1 size boards for jury deliberations. The digital submission shall be made to an address to be advised.
  13. Jury deliberations will take place in London in the first week of September 2024. The winning entries will be notified to the winners as soon as the jury decision has been reached. An official public announcement will be made on a date to be advised shortly after Jury deliberations. Video links with the 3 winners will be arranged for that time as well.
  14.  The Competition results will be published on the website after written notifications have been sent to the winning Competitors.
  15. The presentation of the awards will be held by ZOOM (or if possible, at the P21 Gallery in London) and it is envisaged that an accompanying exhibition of the winning entries will be arranged later.
  16. Competitors are expected to honour a confidentiality agreement to prevent information of the winning entry being leaked to the Press or to any other party before or after the awards. Palestine Land Society is the sole owner of all submissions-- for publication or publicity in any form. The participating students and universities should be aware of this condition and comply with it.
  17. 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.
  18.  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.
  19. All competitors must be full-time academic student in a recognised university in Palestine and the region. An exception is made for Palestine 1948 as indicated elsewhere.
  20. 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, etc.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Awards
    First prize £1000.
    Second prize £750.
    Third prize £500.
    Recognition certificate will also be issued.
The Competition Committee