Return to Nature – Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency
Decolonizing architecture is a collective of architects running a residency program based in Beit Sahour, Palestine. It is the result of the cooparation between the London-based architect and theorist Eyal Weizman and the Bethlehem-based architects Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti. Decolonizing architecture is a multilayerd project. It includes case studies of two central sides symbolizing the actual political conflict: the former military base, Oush Grab, and the settlement of P’sagot. Decolonizing architecture explores the possibilities of understanding and redesigning Palestine in preparation for a post-evacuation time and aims to create an new context.
The former Israeli military base Oush Grab was transformed into a decolonized architecture art space over time. After the Israelis left in 2006, some Palestinians demolished the remaining houses, that were left behind almost intact. This act of re-appropriation led to an unintended, not artificial and spontaneous destruction, which already served as the first step of the artwork. Additionally this moment of first access questions the conception of architecture and urban planning.
As a form of creating a new landscape, DAAR employed the first steps of destruction at the buildings of Oush Grab. The architects propose to perforate the buildings of the military base by drilling holes into its walls. They call this “Return to Nature”. These wholes shall promote the process of reintegrating the buildings back into the landscape on the one hand and shall also serve as shelter for migrating birds on the other hand. Birds that annually take their rest on their way to the South of Africa in the area of Oush Grab, symbolize a freedom of movement, which is currently unachievable for the citizens of the West Bank. Coming from Siberia over Eastern Europe, the Birds also represent the idea of the residencies of DAAR. Dozens of birds are installed in the photographies, the graphics and the models. These ideas of merging the flora and fauna with the military bases are realized in powerful photographic works.