Nadia Habash, Birzeit architecture professor, elected leader of the Palestinian Engineers Association

Known for her national conservation efforts, Habash is the first woman to hold leadership of a trade union in Palestine

Nadia Habash, an instructor of architectural engineering at Birzeit University, has recently been elected leader of the Palestinian Engineers Association, becoming the first woman to hold leadership of a trade union in Palestine following the association’s elections in late August. 

Habash, nationally renowned for her efforts to conserve and restore historical buildings and monuments in Palestine, is one of the founders of Birzeit University’s Department of Architectural Engineering, leading, and guiding, the development of the department’s programs and initiatives since its inception. 

Aside from her conservation efforts, Habash has designed numerous iconic and landmark buildings and projects in Palestine, such as Al-Istiqlal Park in Ramallah, the Archeological Park at Hisham’s Palace in Jericho, the water reservoirs in Der Istya and Kufur Abbooush, and the Faculty of Art, Music and Design at Birzeit University. 

Habash’s design prowess and conservation efforts have garnered her national and international attention. In 2017, Habash’s project for preserving and restoring the Araba palaces won the Hasib Sabbagh and Said Khoury award for best architectural project in Palestine, and in 2018, she won the Tamayouz Women in Architecture and Construction Award for her efforts to improve the lives of Palestinians through architecture. Habash was also named one of the 50 most influential architects in the region by the Middle East Architect magazine. 

Habash’s inspiration stems mainly from her national duty as an architect to preserve Palestinian cultural landmarks. Architecture in Palestine, she notes, is “subjected to systematic destruction by the Israeli occupiers aiming at eliminating evidence of the existence of our grandfathers on this land,” adding that it is the architect’s responsibility to counter these attempts and conserve the national Palestinian heritage. 

Habash’s architecture-as-resistance approach is closely intertwined with her work at Birzeit University, where leads lectures, seminars, and workshops on historical conservation and preservation efforts and tools. As leader of the Palestinian Engineers Association, she will foster a culture of social activism where Palestinian national heritage is preserved and promoted through “an architecture of social engagement.”