el-Atlal artists & writers residency
Launched and exhibited in Paris, the project is now on display at Volume (architecture library and gallery) until the end of February 2015.
Created in the summer of 2014, el-Atlal (the Ruins) is a cultural network that aims to support artistic exchanges between Palestine and the world. The project will be implemented in Jericho.
The project will take the form an artists’ and writers’ residency in the heart of Jericho, an oasis in Palestine. Open to all artists of the world, el-Atlal aims to highlight the potential of Palestine as a territory of creation. Before the construction proper, el-Atlal will organize cultural events in Paris, Jericho, and all over the world.
The association of vast terraced landscapes and nodal dense urban fabrics constitutes the main structure of the Palestinian cities. The nodal point of the city is divided in neighborhoods, called Harat. A Hara is defined by a neighborhood in which inhabitants share common ideas. It defines a district, a place, a space but also a group of persons, a large family.
In Palestine, the most common construction material is stone. Stone is abundant, widely available and –foremost – an urban law imposed by the Ottomans requires stone construction in order to unify the built landscapes. This law underlines the shift from a self-managed urbanism to an authority urbanism. Although the social structure built around the Harat still exists, it is progressively disappearing because it is incompatible with the imposed urbanism.
Not only is the stone a marker of the transition in the urban and social structures, but it shows the evolution of the Palestinian city’s morphology. The construction techniques’ evolution, from fabrication to implementation, has an effect on the entirety of the Palestinian city.
Until the beginning of the previous century stereotomy, or the art of cutting and assembling stones, played an important role in the esthetics as well as in the structural construction principles. Today’s stone factories only produce standardized blocks of few cm, used as cladding of a reinforced concrete structure. The techniques used for building with stone have an effect on the speed of construction, the urban spread of territorial boundaries, and the morphology of all buildings. In other words, stereotomy and the construction methods leave a trace on the Palestinian landscape.
In this context, the el-Atlal project is thought as a manifesto. The results of a research led simultaneously by SCALES (department of research of AAU ANASTAS ) will be applied to the residency project. The research investigates the typology of stone vaults. The research relies on novel design simulation and fabrication processes. The use of advanced techniques of cutting is directly associated to a structural optimization of the stone vault.
Reinvigorating stereotomy as a way of optimizing structural performance using advanced design simulations is the founding principle of the research project.
The el-Atlal project is meant to be a model of construction techniques. It allows to envision new possible cities’ morphologies, new construction techniques and a sophisticated use of stone. The project has the ambition of creating a mode of urbanism, and as the harat succeeded in building a city that fits their needs through stone construction techniques, el-Atlal expects to be a breeding ground of inclusive approaches to Palestinian urbanism. An urbanism whose scales are profoundly associated. A technical and durable urbanism leaving a trace on the city’s evolution and on the Palestinian landscape.
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Project renders courtesy of AAU Anastas.
Click here for the project Facebook page.