Gaza © Jordan
Introduction and exploration of a spatial frame for
Gaza camp, its community and context.
“(Palestinian camps) represent a unique urban pattern which has special features, problems, structures and consequently requires a special classification in the study of urban societies in the Middle East” - Ishaq Al-Qutub, 1989
Refugee camps have proven to be exceptional spaces, hard to compare to any other densely populated entity. They represent a variety of conditions - some unique to the Palestinian refugee case - that add to their complexity. It is crucial to understand these conditions - that reflect not only on the camp, but also on its inhabitants - prior to understanding Gaza camp in particular. Naturally each camp is different from the next and an even bigger distinction exists between camps in different hosting countries, among others as a result of their dissimilar legislations. Ismae’l Sheikh Hassan clarifies how the site of each camp plays the most important part in the development of the identity, the role and the spatial formation of each individual camp. Nevertheless all of them share a common past and a mutual aspiration - the return - for the future. The historical context of the refugee camp created a space of exile and a state of exception, but the shared vision for the future generates spaces where the Palestinian identity and the Right to return can actively be sensed.
As one of the numerous Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, Gaza camp has undergone a profound transformation throughout its almost fifty years of existence. Departing from an emergency ‘tent settlement’, it has over time gradually evolved into a unique urban entity, bringing along a wide range of problems. This collective research seeks to acknowledge and reinforce the latent potentials and possibilities of this human settlement in exile. As a stain of urban fabric embedded within a rich landscape, the camp has not become a space of exclusion nor isolation, but evolved towards a strong pole of attraction. Hence, the camp today can no longer be considered as merely the space within its initially defined perimeter, but as a wider Jordanian territory that became occupied by the ex-Gazan community. By means of both objective and explorative mappings, supplemented with a set of spatial readings, it is tried to distillate a spatial frame that constitutes the precondition of the camp’s future development which is translated into explorative design approaches that seek to tackle the camp’s current problems related to its increasing density, population growth and the lack of awareness towards its surrounding landscape.