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    #24: The West Bank (A Brief Overview Insofar)

    Anthony Sunga Aug 12 '11 0

    Song:How Come You Never Go There by Feist
    Place: Zamn Coffee Shop, Ramallah, West Bank (Palestine)
    Time:7:15 PM (Ramadan Time)

    This is going to be my first post of a series about the Riwaq Summer Workshop in the West Bank. Nine students including myself were selected from the M.Arch I and Historic Preservation program to document the work of Riwaq, an NGO that specializes in the historic preservation of Palestinian architecture and also produce a charette-style proposal for a project in the throne-village of Deir Ghassaneh. To better understand Palestinian culture and its relationship to Israel, we visited several sites throughout the region and interviewed architects, historians, politicians, and artists.

    My first post will be an overview of the places we've visited insofar and my perspective of relevant issues. I understand the political conflicts of the area and encourage open dialogue.

    Amman, Jordan & Riwaq Office in Ramallah:

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    First group dinner at a restaurant across hotel in Amman. We will be in Palestine during all of Ramadan which took some getting use to, but eventually we found the places that offered food during the day.

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    View of Amman from hotel balcony

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    Front facade of Riwaq Office

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    First meeting with Riwaq


    IBN SAMHAN CASTLE in Ras Karkar, 12 km west of Ramallah. First project we visited that was renovated and preserved by Riwaq.

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    View from the roof of the castle. Nearly all Palestinian buildings have roof access.

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    The sheik's room. Homes were usually complexes that housed extended family members and their families. Much of the circulation occured on the outside and interiors were never deeper than one. Rooms were structured and ornamented by their cross vaulting.

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    Portals in the castle were deliberaly designed low to force people to bow before the Sheik.

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    The light and weather in the region is spectacular. Much less humid than NYC (which is always a plus)!

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    BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY MUSEUM EXHIBITION OF TRADITIONAL PALESTINIAN ATTIRE

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    The curator (A native Palestinian educated in Britain) explains the significance of organized by religion, sexuality, mourning, and wealth. It was important for the curator to de-propagandize the exhibition as pro-Palestinian instead he opted for a clear presentation of the tradition.

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    TAYBEH, THE ONLY PREDOMINANTLY CHRISTIAN TOWN IN PALESTINE:

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    The only beer brewed in Palestine and amazingly one of the best beers I've ever tasted. Ask your local bar to carry it and support small businesses!

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    Although most people travel by car, some prefer donkeys. I prefer by backwards crab walk.

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    I am pretty certain this is the Taybeh skyline by the profusion of Christian churches. The towns get confusing since it is mandated from the British occupation that buildings may only be surfaced in local limestone.

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    Palestinian towns are usually built atop hills which luckily Palestine isn't in short supply. It does make traveling difficult as I get easily motion sick.

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    Area of Taybeh rehabilitated by Riwaq. The detail reminds me of a beer bottle. From now on I will design only in reference to gin.

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    Exterior circulation creates interesting spaces that pile on top of each other.

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    The remnants of the Church of St. George in Taybeh.

    NEXT CHAPTER: Jerusalem and More Very Old Things

     

     
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