Providing unity where there is division: Rethinking public space in the twin cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, Palestine

Sairafi, M. 2021. Providing unity where there is division: Rethinking public space in the twin cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, Palestine. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Architecture and Cities https://doi.org/10.34737/vqx48

TitleProviding unity where there is division: Rethinking public space in the twin cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, Palestine
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSairafi, M.
Abstract

This study seeks to broaden the understanding of public spaces in Palestine through an ethnographic approach that examines the everyday life inside the twin cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh. It looks beyond the physical materiality of public space to incorporate various forms of individual and collective processes that extend beyond the bounded space and connect it with other spaces, activities, and users. This offers an alternative way to look at the conflict and fragmentation that dominates the Palestinian context and investigates everyday life from a different lens that incorporates social and historical dimensions. It foregrounds ordinary everyday practices that are often less visible and play a central role in transforming spaces and attaching meanings to them. The conceptual framework developed in this study emphasises activities, physical elements, and users’ agency that support meaningful social networks and historical links in public space. This approach highlights the role of Palestinians as active agents engaged in shaping public spaces that contribute to challenging social and physical hindrances within the broader context. Furthermore, this approach rethinks the relationship between the formal and informal operations in public space and reveals how informality is an essential dimension that supports agency and enables users to attribute meanings to space. The findings of this research contribute to existing design and management practices that tend to overlook and dismiss many of the informal operations that challenge Israeli restrictions and re-connect fragmented geographies. Such informal operations reveal a great deal of agency carried out by ordinary people and bring to the fore creative solutions that are based on movements, appropriations, collaborations, and communications between diverse groups. The findings reveal important variables that support these operations and provide enabling and empowering conditions in public space. Incorporating these variables in public space design facilitates processes that are fundamental for sustaining social unity and reinforcing shared meanings in public space. Moreover, they can inform future design and management practices in public space and inspire policies and planning decisions that support the informal and enable users to shape meaningful public spaces.

Year2021
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedNov 2021
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/vqx48

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