Nederlands English

Present situation
Present situation

Public property
Public property

Intervention to redevelop public property
Intervention to redevelop public property

Evolution of the project
Evolution of the project

Introduction of a second network by connecting roof terraces
Introduction of a second network by connecting roof terraces

Network of roof terraces
Network of roof terraces

Impression of Al-Wihdat
Impression of Al-Wihdat

Impression of Al-Wihdat
Impression of Al-Wihdat




PROJECTINDEX
 
WIHDATOPIA
Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst
URBAN DESIGN

Refugee camps are the cities of tomorrow
Located in southeast Amman, the capital city of Jordan, the Palestinian refugee camp of Al-Wihdat has an estimated 75,000 inhabitants. Camps and cities are often regarded as two separate entities, but increasing numbers of people are fleeing to the city instead of to a camp in no-man’s-land. This has ushered in a new worldwide phenomenon, refuge cities. The new reality of the refugee crisis challenges us to abandon that biased juxtaposition and instead look for the similarities between camp and city. Wihdatopia examines this interlinked future in three components: empirical research, design and reflection.
The empirical research explores the growth of the camp in relation to the development of the city and its context. Observations of Al-Wihdat’s development over time show how the camp has evolved from an outsider position via a heterotopical intermediate phase into a symbiotic relationship with the city of Amman. Preliminary research revealed that the dependence on humanitarian aid and the resulting isolation make it difficult for the camp to take the next step forward. Its progress has stagnated after years of emancipation. The presence of humanitarian relief and the lack of a central authority are suspending the refugee community in time and space.
This project constructs a hypothetical urban design intervention that is to turn this hopeless situation around. It proposes two administrative stimuli, namely to disconnect the camp from international humanitarian relief and to give camp residents ownership rights over the land they have occupied for so long. The design builds upon Arab principles rooted in a regional planning tradition. Proceeding from the perspective of an unresolved development, the strategic intervention creates conditions that enable the camp to grow organically into an inclusive urban area, one whose architecture and urban design document a potentially new set of iconic images of a much greater relevance and substance. The reflection on the research shows that refugee camps can and must become part of urban development. This premise is supported by a theory deeply rooted in the developmental logic of Al-Wihdat’s transformation from camp to city. This offers prospects for a new standard for humanitarian aid as an urban problem. For these refuge cities are the places where the next generation will be born, or where the next great outburst of violence will occur. By facing up to the urban problematic of the influx of refugees, this issue can become part of a narrative about future cities worldwide. The knowledge, capacity and enthusiasm we possess to invest in these places will make a difference.