The research speculates the notion of ‘the common’ in contraposition to the dominant categories of ‘public’ and
‘private’ in Palestine, where the idea of the public is particularly toxic due to existing political conflicts. The
fundamental question here is whether it is possible to think and practice a political collective beyond the frame of
state and consequently from a spatial perspective. In the investigations, we start exploring the ‘common’ from the
conditions that exist today.
In a refugee camp, for example, the common is the absence of private property, but also the shared history of
displacement and imagined future of a return.
The project investigates the role of architecture in a context of conflict, a context mainly approached from a
political point of view that nevertheless in reality has very concrete spatial implications.
Under the patronage of UNRWA Camp Improvement Program, the research studio contributed to the design and
realization of the Deheishe Center, in the Deheishe Refugee Camp in the West Bank.
In the present conditions, this Center is the attempt to re-establish a political dimension and, most importantly, it
aims at being formally different from all the other more than 20 highly international NGOs that are present within
the borders of the camp, not only in terms of the program but essentially in its’ architectural form.
The building in this case gains extreme importance for being the very physical representation of a political act.
Which would be the architectural form that could truly represent the refugees? The tradition of public spaces as a
place of performance makes one think that it should be a plaza. But paradoxically for the refugees whatever is
completely open is not public. Therefore in order to be public it has to be closed and it has to be protected.