Urban adaptive mechanisms for communities under siege: The case of Jerusalem, Palestine
Abu Ghazaleh, Rana
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Statement of issue . In conflicted societies, some formal land regulatory systems, like exclusionary forms of zoning, are used as mechanisms by the colonizer to control and oppress the colonized and deny their basic human rights and needs (Bollens 1989; Yiftachel, 1996; Ophir, 2002; Glaeser and Shapiro, 2001). This represents a critical aspect of the conflict specifically as it affects the core existence of the colonized population. In order to survive the conflict and cope with the repercussions of exclusionary zoning, oppressed societies create temporary informal urban functions and spaces that often collide with the formal land development patterns (Laguerre, 1994, Graham, 2004). These urban functions (and spaces) serve to fulfill the basic needs of the oppressed communities through informal means and represent adaptive strategies that allow them to survive the restrictive and discriminatory policies of the formal system. Responding to this issue, this thesis investigates the coping mechanisms for communities under conflict, war or siege and how these mechanisms affect the urban form. The study area selected for this thesis is Jerusalem, Palestine. The aim of the thesis is to document how the Palestinian communities living there manage their daily lives with the existence of checkpoints and the recently built Israeli Segregation Wall. The investigation is based on an attempt to answer the following questions: What were the daily living activities before and after the introduction of the checkpoints and the Wall into the Palestinian urban fabric? Where is the location of these temporary urban functions? How do these functions clash with the existing land use typologies? And finally, what forms do these adaptive mechanisms and temporary urban functions take? Statement of significance of issue . With the existence of the conflict and the ongoing denial of the basic services to the Palestinian communities, the conditions of the neighborhoods in Jerusalem keep moving from bad to worse. The lack of proper planning, and the exclusionary zoning system adopted by the colonizing state, has forced the colonized to resort to informality to fulfill their basic needs. This has resulted in creating pressure on the existing infrastructure that is not equipped to handle many of the temporary urban functions and spaces formed. Crowded and dilapidated neighborhoods, unsafe recreational spaces and hazardous transportation systems and route conditions are only a few examples of the conditions in these areas. Hence, the significance of this thesis stems from the fact that it sheds light on a conflict region to which planners have paid little attention. The thesis serves to educate the readers and the planning community on the role of the conflict and exclusionary planning system in exacerbating the conditions of these neighborhoods, as well as the remarkable ability of communities to adapt to these conditions. The thesis also aspires to provoke planners to re-examine their views on informality and rethink the existing zoning norms and patterns in order to support communities in their attempts to survive in conflict regions. Method of inquiry . The thesis relies on qualitative and spatial analysis methods to investigate the issue at hand. It is based on an extensive review of the literature that explains informality, temporariness, types of adaptive mechanisms and the forces contributing to the formation of temporary informal functions and spaces. In conducting the spatial analysis, the thesis relies on contemporary and historic maps, pictures and field visits to document the existing temporary informal functions and spaces to examine the situation before and after the siege. The analysis also relies on interviews with residents of the Jerusalem governorate on the adaptive strategies they use to deal with the conflict/siege. The research is based on interviews with six heads of households, from selected neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area, about changes in their daily activities due to the siege. These interviews are an integral part of the analysis of the condition before and after the siege. The interviews also demonstrate the types of adaptive mechanisms used in conflict societies. Expected outcome . The thesis seeks to document the adaptive mechanisms of the Palestinian communities under siege and how these mechanisms affect the urban form, and provides informed accounts of the population's adaptive strategies in dealing with the conflict/siege.