ARCHITECTURAL CONSERVATION AND REFUGEE CAMPS
APPLICATION DEADLINE: March 11, 2016 (8pm GMT)
Position open for UK candidate (From March 17 to May 17, 2016)
Theme of DAAR residency 2016
In the last years architectural conservation has become a field of knowledge and a practice able to re- frame our understanding of esthetics, cultural heritage, and history. Historically, architectural conservation was understood mainly as a discipline that froze time, space, and culture, reducing buildings to lifeless objects to contemplate. Today, instead, it is an operative field that includes material and immaterial cultures, preservation of social and identity structures, a contested space where national identities are constructed and demolished.
We started to preserve and protect structures built centuries ago. Later on we discovered that even modernism that claimed to be ahistorical needed to be preserved as part of an historical narration of the city, and we ended up considering rough industrial zones as national heritage. Refugee camps became sites of heated discussions on what needs to be remembered and what needs to be forgotten. If we look at refugee camps with the lens of architectural preservation, how might our understanding of camps change?
Refugee camps are considered temporary spaces to be quickly dismantled. But how then do we understand Palestinian refugee camps that are now almost 70 years old? Can we consider them cultural sites to be preserved? For many it might even be disturbing to be forced to look at refugee camps from this perspective, but this is the reality in front of our eyes that we cannot negate. So one of the urgent questions becomes, do Palestinian refugee camps have history? And how could this history be mobilized for the right of refugees to return instead of perceived as a threat? At the same time, how does the concept of architectural heritage change when applied to refugee camps?