Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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In-Between Hope and Despair: An urban experiment for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories - Ramallah, West Bank

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posted on 2023-04-10, 23:19 authored by Chu-Fong, Melissa

This thesis aims to design an urban experiment for a Palestinian community in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in the hope to reclaim their identity through the ongoing conflict. Perspectives taken from Palestinians will provide the research background towards the interpretation of architecture that should be placed in the right context in history. Palestinians in Israel are restricted to many rights, including the lack of urban initiatives due to the occupation efforts of the Israeli State.

There is a continuing struggle to understand how culture should be expressed in Palestinian architecture due to the conflict and stagnation of rights. This remains as Palestinians have been disengaged with their identities due to the forceful occupation and volatile environments that surround them in the OPT. The lack of support in urban development marks their fragile existence within the country that previously contained a rich cultural heritage built from centuries of habitation. Improvement towards a brighter future can be looked at from a ground up perspective by engaging with first-hand voices and experiences, which could be used to transform the expectations of the urban fabric.

This thesis proposes that a definition of Palestinian identity and culture during a time of conflict should be considered to create a framework for design experiments. It argues that to provide a sufficient design experiment, ideas should be principled by understanding the background of the Palestinian exodus and how this continuous conflict has influenced the perceptions of their identities.

The design outcome of this thesis aims to project narratives from the last decades of life under occupation to inspire the liberation of the Palestinian community and to serve as a reminder that history imprints itself in architecture.

The architectural experiments should seek longevity and respond to integrating itself through urban boundaries and quality living spaces.

This research also aims to offer a definition for the way marginalised communities are approached by prioritising cultural identity to shift power in architecture towards the community it represents. It has applications for future contexts surrounding cultural approaches towards displaced communities and encourages design investigations to start at ground level.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Abreu e Lima, Daniele