A permanent crisis

2017 will mark the joint anniversary of ten years of blockade in the Gaza Strip, and fifty years of occupation in Palestine. It is time to take stock of the conditions on the ground in the Palestinian coastal enclave, where two million people live behind closed borders.

Extensively destroyed during the 2014 war, Gaza is today one of the largest building site in the world. Yet in the enduring context of the blockade, can the reconstruction of Gaza offer the prospect of tangible change for its imprisoned residents?

This research platform offers an analysis of the long-term transformation of Gaza’s territory, with a particular focus on its urban and environmental effects. By shedding new light on an old problem, it aims to revive the imagination of viable future for Gaza.

1. The Separation Fence

A material investigation into a bordering apparatus

10 years of blockade: an overview

Movement of people and goods: interactive map

The Bordering Apparatus

A Walk Through Erez

The Erez Terminal is the only land crossing for the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and Israel and the West Bank, as well as third countries when Rafah Crossing is closed. Currently, Israel permits Palestinian residents to travel via Erez in “exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases”. Following Operation Protective Edge, the average number of exits of Palestinian through Erez increased, however the numbers are still just a fraction of the half million exits by laborers recorded at Erez every month in 2000.

As the only way in or out of Gaza (the Rafah crossing being almost permanently closed now), the Erez terminal is a critical space of control. As such, photography in or around it is strictly forbidden. Based on a limited archive of photographs clandestinely shot by members of the ActiveStills collective, a complete model of the Erez Terminal was built. The animated video to the left describes provides a rare insight into the carceral architecture of the Erez Terminal – the main gate to “the largest open-air prison in the world”.

Tunnel Architecture

Often called the “lifeline” of Gaza, the extensive network of underground tunnels dug under the borders with Egypt and Israel has enabled a considerable supply of goods and equipment to Gaza, and as such, a circumvention of the blockade. Between 2007 and 2014, the tunnel industry passed from a clandestine, makeshift operation into a major commercial enterprise, regulated, taxed, and bureaucratised. Today, between Egypt’s crackdown on tunnels since 2013, and their extensive destruction during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, it is reasonable to think that the movement of people and goods through tunnels is largely reduced in comparison with 2012, the peak of the tunnel economy.

The video animation on the left and drawings below offer an architectural study of the tunnel network, based on rare documentary footage that emerged from the Gaza Strip.

2. The Maritime Border

Ebbing and flowing violence

3. (Disputed) Land Use

Fast and slow violence on the ground

Land cover change

gaza2000 gaza2016

This research section uses remote sensing analysis of archival satellite imagery of the Gaza Strip, in order to reveal patterns of change at territorial level over the past two decades.

All three visualisations presented here – before/after comparison, classified land cover change analysis, and zoomed timelapse animation – show a considerable reduction of cultivated land. This is a direct consequence of an informal, low-density urban sprawl that has been absorbing the demographic pressure over the past decade.

A rise in the proportion of uncultivated land is also notable, corresponding to the decline of productive capacity of the blockaded Gaza strip and to the general process of de-development.

Palimpsest architecture

Tracking traces of former Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, by comparing satellite images shot before and ten years after the 2005 disengagment.

nisanit_aerial_2004 nisanit_aerial_2016
katif-2004 katif-2016
morag-2003 morag-2016

Urban morphology

4. Collective Equipment

In a fractured territory

5. The Water Crisis

The environment knows no border