Positive steps have been taken this past year towards a resolution of the Israel and Palestine conflict. Just last year, Israel gave permission for Gaza, the front of the 2009 military offensive that destroyed nearly 60,000 homes, the construction rights to the area’s largest housing projects.
This will include the construction of over 1,200 home and 18 school facilities.
With the construction consent and approval in place, Gaza will finally be able to rebuild much needed spaces, and help to stimulate a virtually non-existent industry.
What has concerned certain industry members globally, however, is the authority of the Israeli industry and there own track record in the creation of residential spaces.
The most prominent of these, is the ‘World’s Strangest Building’ listed Ramot Polin apartment complex in northwest Jerusalem. Created in 1973 by experimental architect Zvi Hecker after the 6 Day War, the neighbourhood is formed of 720 units, each varying in size but all with a dodecahedron formation. Created as the standard family home, this ill-planned multi-residential housing complex is now inhabited by low income, highly orthodox settlers.
One critic from the ‘World Bin’ describes the carelessness in which this impractical building has been created as a cultural reality.
“The estate is an extreme example of the Israeli, and generally Middle-Eastern, tendency to radically alter and make additions to the family home outside of official planning regulations and permits” he says.
What is alarming about the build is its apparent carelessness. While design experimentation is a part of this industry, low-income housing should be made for habitability, not design creativity.
While many would say that it is a mistake of outdated architectural grandiosity that we too have made here in Australia, it cannot be ignored that the government have done little but slash rent, add airconditioners and open up balconies in modern times.
The critic goes on to describe the interiors of the complex as large, with unusable walls, drainage and rain issues, strange and dangerous windows, deficient of natural light and completely unattractive and impractical to its proposed cliental.
While this is but one Israeli industry venture, and an old one at that, its renovation and implementation in modern times does cast a shadow of a doubt over there latest industry influence in Gaza.
Construction and planning is an absolute necessity, but construction without a proper industry foundation is unproductive, inefficient and potentially dangerous. This is a perfect time to start afresh and create a strong industry foundation in Gaza. It will be paramount that this new development is durable and structurally sound because Gaza does not have the luxury of fragile buildings and infrastructure due to the constant tension of its location.