An online statement entitled ‘Architects For Gaza (AFG): a call for immediate action to rebuild Gaza’, has been signed by more than 500 people.
Signatories of the statement include 295 architects as well as planners, designers and environmentalists.
As of today (5 December), a UN official has warned ‘an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold’ in the Gaza Strip, potentially throwing humanitarian aid operations into jeopardy, reports the BBC, after the Israeli military said it is taking ‘aggressive action’ against Hamas and other armed groups in southern Gaza.
Yesterday the Israeli military said it was expanding into ‘all areas’ of the Gaza strip. Fighting resumed in the area on Friday (1 December), following the collapse of a seven-day ceasefire last week, which involved the release of 110 people held hostage by Hamas and Israel’s release of 240 Palestinians from Israeli jails.
The AFG campaign is being led by design-led research group the Palestinian Regeneration Team (PART), co-founded by Yara Sharif, Nasser Golzari and Murray Fraser of London-based NGA Architects, in affiliation with international pressure group Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP).
Signatories of the statement include figures from the architectural world such as Kate Macintosh, Sean Griffiths, Lesley Lokko of the African Futures Institute, former RIBA president Angela Brady, Bartlett professor Jane Rendell, Akil Scafe-Smith of Resolve Collective, Shumi Bose of Central St Martin’s, and Studio Bednarski founder Cezary Bednarski.
The statement condemns what it describes as ‘the spacio-cidal violence enacted on the Gaza Strip and its people’.
It calls for ‘an immediate permanent ceasefire and the rebuilding of Gaza in close collaboration with those displaced families’, following ‘the reinstatement of the essential services, of water, electricity, fuel and food within the Gaza Strip’.
As of 29 November, a UN-led aid consortium estimates 46,000 homes have been destroyed and 234,000 damaged across Gaza – equivalent to 60 per cent of the housing stock in the territory, Al Jazeera reported.
The AFG’s statement calls on on ‘the international community of academics and professionals’ to ‘play a pivotal role’ in reconstruction efforts, and on ‘all individuals and international partners, professional bodies and institutions‘ to endorse its campaign.
It goes on to propose the formation of a Gaza Reconstruction Collective, consisting of a number of strategically placed interdisciplinary ‘self-help clusters’ to rebuild homes alongside displaced families.
The statement comes weeks after the International Union of Architects (UIA) called for an ‘urgent ceasefire’ in the Gaza strip, joining the United Nations General Assembly’s stance on the conflict.
In late October, the UN General Assembly called for an ‘immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce’ between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza.
The UIA, which operates in 131 countries and territories and represents more than 1.3 million architects worldwide, echoed the stance, and said it was ‘deeply concerned by the loss of innocent lives and the destruction of people’s homes, schools, hospitals and vital infrastructures’ in the area.
According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, more than 15,000 Palestinians in the territory have been killed in air and artillery strikes carried out by the Israeli military since Hamas launched a surprise assault on Israel on 7 October, killing around 1,200 people and taking about 200 hostages.
In its latest estimate, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said roughly 1.8 million people in Gaza (around 75 per cent of the population) had been displaced.