Gaza Learning Room
Team: Palestine Regeneration Team (PART)
Collaborators: RIWAQ: Centre for Architectural Conservation
Location: Gaza City, Palestine
'LEARNING ROOM’ PROTOTYPE FOR THE ZAYTOUNA NEIGHBOURHOOD IN GAZA CITY
In light of the current siege of the Gaza Strip, and the mass destruction that took place during the brutal attacks by the Israeli Army three years ago, there is an urgent need for reconstruction. Few rebuilding projects are able to take place due to the closure of borders, lack of construction materials, and the deeply complex political and economic situation. Most people’s activity has focussed on removing the rubble from the 2009 attacks and trying to secure compensation payments needed to make a new start. Estimates are that 60,000 dwellings are required. Designs for reconstruction projects have started to emerge, but as yet there isn’t any comprehensive strategy to incorporate these initiatives together.
In an attempt to help Gazans who are still homeless, a pilot project for what we are calling a ‘Learning Room’ prototype has been initiated by Palestine Regeneration Team (PART). The project is the result of a previous interactive workshop that we conducted in Gaza City in partnership with UN.
Habitat, Gaza Islamic University, Islamic Relief, and other housing partners there. The ‘Learning Room’ is envisaged as a rapid, self-built project that can address the ongoing daily hardships while also establishing a clear social and environmental agenda for reconstruction in general. Indeed, our aim is to build upon current local initiatives in the short-term by introducing longer-term strategies that can help to create more sustainable Gazan communities.
The ‘Learning Room’ is thus seen as a space where citizens can explore appropriate forms of building technology and patterns of inhabitation with the aim of reducing the use of resources – both in terms of initial construction and the ongoing building lifecycle. Designed initially for a specific school in the Zaytouna neighbourhood of Gaza City, the design seeks also to be a prototype interface between other schools and their local citizens, by providing a ‘community laboratory’ where one can learn about, discuss, debate, and carry out hands-on experiments with self-help construction and ‘green building’ knowledge.