Brave New Alps

Decolonizing Architecture


The architects Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal and Eyal Weizman invited us to collaborate on their project Decolonizing Architecture in spring 2008.
The project assumes that at some point the Israeli colonies, built on stolen Palestinian land, will be evacuated. Thus, it is dealing with the possible future use of those abandoned settlements and proposes subversive ways of using those places. The goal is to prevent the colonies from becoming fortresses for the wealthy Palestinian upper class and from reproducing the same scenario which is now going on between Israelis and Palestinians.


Our contributions to the project:

1. The website



2. Research on evacuated settlements in the north of the West Bank, conducted together with Anne Gough and Jesse Long



2.1 Az-Zabadida – former military camp – evacuated in 2005

This former military camp is located between the villages of Az Zababida and Qabatiya and appears to have been evacuated for a longer time. People from the village have more access to this site than the inhabitants of Jaba’ and Sanur have to the Jaba’-Sanur camp, though all the structures were demolished save one in major disrepair. The top of the camp is used as a quarry. The best land, near the shooting range, has been completely taken over for intensive agriculture production, producing a kind of decolonization through cultivation.





The former shooting area of the camp, now transformed into cultivated land


2.2 Homesh – former colony – officially evacuated in 2006; settlers are still living there

Homesh, near Nablus, is located on a hill that towers over the village of Burqa. The land the settlement occupies is owned, in small parcels, by the villagers of Burqa. It was primarily used for agriculture, a well-known area for apple orchards. After the evacuation, the landowners began to use the hill and repair the terraces they used for cultivation. In July of 2007 the settlers returned to reoccupy Homesh. They organized a movement in Israel called Homesh First which supports the settlers by bringing them food and water, allowing a small number of settlers to continually occupy the hilltop. According to most maps, this area was supposed to have returned to Palestinians. In reality, the settlers are more violent and reactionary toward the citizens of Burqa then before the original evacuation. They have been to steal sheep and tools from the villagers and light their cars on fire.

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Homesh before (2004) and after (2006) the evaquation. Courtesy: ARIJ


Homesh over the village Burqa


The former settlement with the only visible structure of the settlement that was left intact, the water tower


2.3 Jaba’-Sanur – former military camp – evacuated in 2006

This former military camp is located between the villages of Jaba’ and Sanur, in the Jenin district; the owners of the land are people from both villages. The camp extends on both sides of the major road between the two villages. While the camp has been evacuated for many years, the Israeli army still visits the site on a regular basis. They set up checkpoints and harass villagers. Unlike Oush Grab, when they evacuated, the Israelis destroyed all the buildings in the camp, leaving huge piles of rubble. This presents a challenge for any public reuse. Landowners say they haven’t touched their land since the army left because they don’t have the money to repair the damage. Some people have begun minimal cultivation on the edges of the camp, and shepherds have set up tents in the former shooting range.





2.4 Kaddim – former colony – evacuated in 2005

Kaddim was the settlement closest to the city of Jenin; as is customary it occupied a hilltop overlooking the city. Built on land belonging to the Jenin Municipality, the settlement made life very difficult for Jenin residents. The military incursions into the city were executed from the settlement and as a result of the transformation of the traditional road network into a segregated two-tier system, a trip that used to take 4 km took residents 40 km because they did not have access to the bypass road. The private homes in the settlement were pre-fabricated and at the evacuation they were taken apart and moved by the settlers. As a result very little rubble remains. This has made the subversion and reuse of the landscape less problematic for Palestinians: The place has turned into an informal city park, used for picnics, barbeques and football games. Although the spirit of Decolonization is visible in this location, there is still a military order over the land the settlement sat on, so any new building or development is forbidden.

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Kaddim before (2004) and after (2006) the evaquation. Courtesy: ARIJ







2.5 Sa Nur – former military base and outpost – evacuated in 2005

Sa Nur, just a few kilometers north of Homesh, was a small outpost also evacuated in 2005. The surrounding residents better know it as Tresilla then as Sa-Nur. The original structure was built during the Ottoman period and used as a citadel; it was then used by the British, Jordanian and Israeli occupations as a military base. Unlike other sites we visited, the original structure and architectural edifice was left intact. Internally, the citadel was damaged, but could be easily repaired. A small mosque was also left primarily intact.

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Sa Nur before (2004) and after (2006) the evaquation. Courtesy: ARIJ




The mosque of Sa Nur


To see also the interviews we conducted, go to

Bianca’s participation in the project was kindly supported by the German culture allocation of the Autonomous Province of Bozen-Bolzano.