Traces of Exile

Extracts from “Acts of Return: Spatial Interventions in Palestinian Refugee Camps and Former Villages”
by Bert Ruelens

Reading the camp as an urban palimpsest of exile

Reading the camp as an urban palimpsest of exile (Bert Ruelens)

The Palestinian refugee camps exist as extraterritorial islands throughout Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

The historic development of Dheisha refugee camp since 1949

Historic development of Dheisheh refugee camp and future projection

Historic development of Dheisheh refugee camp and future projection (Bert Ruelens)

Yet today a new form of spatial agency has taken hold in the camp, harnessing the built environment instead as a vehicle for social empowerment.

The architecture of the camp was cast as an indelible monument to ‘temporariness’, with the everyday hardship of its inhabitants standing as a material endorsement of the ‘right of return’.

A spatial conjecture of 'creative destruction'

A spatial conjecture of 'creative destruction' (Bert Ruelens)

This project imagines another phase of this transformation as it might coincide with a heightening of the processes of return. In an environment where the camp reaches a state of obsolescence, or is forced to renegotiate its relationship with the surrounding territory, how might the urban fabric respond? And what traces of exile might remain?

Spatial intervention in context

Spatial intervention in context (Bert Ruelens)

(Content published on arenaofspeculation.org with permission from the author.)