University professors organize symposium on architecture and the Palestinian dream

The symposium was part of the international Biennale d’Architectured’Orléans in France

Professors from the Department of Architectural Engineering at Birzeit University have recently organized a symposium in the Biennale d’Architectured’Orléans, a large-scale international architecture exhibition held in Orléans, France.

The symposium, entitled “Land of Dreams to Dreamland: Dream of a State to a State of a Dream," was held on March 17 in the Frac Centre-Val de Loire in France. It addressed architectural production in Palestine within the context of the Palestinian dream and highlighted the architectural and urban reflections of that dream’s transformations throughout the years. The symposium also shined a spotlight on architectural engineering as a way to understand the Palestinian dream, its connection to the Arab region and the world as a whole, and the permutations that it has experienced. 

The symposium was a result of the collective efforts of Yasid Al Rifai, chair of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Birzeit University and Shaden Awad and Dima Yaser, professors in the Department of Architectural Engineering, who all participated in the scientific coordination for the symposium and represented Birzeit University.

Moreover, the symposium also included the participation of Yasser Elsheshtawy, adjunct professor of architecture at Columbia University and a visiting scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, DC; Nadia Habash, chief designer and director of Habash Consulting Engineers and an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Architecture at Birzeit University; Dr. Shadi Ghadban, associate professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering at Birzeit University; and Abaher Sakka, associate professor at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Birzeit University. 

In addition, Professors of Architectural Engineering Yasid El Rifai, Shaden Awad, Shadi Ghadban, and Dima Yaser, as well as five architecture students from the department, took part in a workshop that explored “stateless architecture” and the production of architecture outside of the state’s political sphere of influence.

The second stage of the workshop, held in cooperation with the Bourge Academy of Fine Arts, will take place on Birzeit University’s campus at the end of April 2018, and will mark the culmination of the Department of Architectural Engineering’s efforts to develop channels of cooperation and academic relations between Palestinian students and academics and between students and international academic institutions. 

The Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, under the theme “Walking through someone else’s dream,” addressed the past, present, dreams, and fears of various architects and provided them with the space to express their thoughts and opinions and showcase their works within an international context.

The exhibition, held from October 2017 to April 2018, featured 53 architects and artists and aimed to create a space for meaningful international discussion and dialogue on urbanization and trends in architecture, among other topics.