Urban Lab in Gaza

26-08-16 Selected for the UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Design LAB, Naomi of FREEM was invited to work in Gaza, Palestine territories. The Urban Lab proposes and implements urban planning projects from neighborhood to city-wide scale worldwide. The LAB supports local, regional and national authorities to implement policies, plans and designs through participatory planning processes for more compact, better integrated and connected cities that foster equitable sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change.

In Gaza the design team of the Urban Lab cooperated with the local Municipality Technical Support Team, set up by the local UN-Habitat’s office, to help developing spatial plans focusing on post-conflict reconstruction. In the design team Naomi worked with Martin Sobota, Cityförster, Eric-Jan Pleijster, Lola Landscape architects and Peter vanden Abeele, Maat ontwerpers and the Urban Lab was guided by Rogier van den Berg, project leader of the Urban Labs at UN-Habitat. The Urban labs are supported by the Creative Industries NL.

A multitude of reasons lay at the basis for reviewing the existing framework for further development of Gaza. The destruction of houses, infrastructure, places of production caused by the last wars, can be regarded the starting point. But from there other major challenges must be faced. A fast growing population needs affordable housing. In towns, infrastructure, sewage, public transport are lacking. Environmental issues are pushing for drastic measures regarding water treatment, retention and reuse, intensifying agriculture and soil or landscape conservation. Communities are in need of public services, opportunities to increase local employment and entrepreneurship. They also are in need of strengthening social cohesion offering, adding public space for all societal groups and allowing the communities to participate into the planning processes.

The project is presented during the Architecture Biennale in Venice ‘Reporting from the front’ in May 2016 and the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.

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