Commissioned by an instance of the United Nations, the courthouse facility is part of a larger project funded by GAC Canada for developing judicial institutions in Palestine. Through the design process, the donor (GAC Canada), the implementing agency (UNOPS), and the end user (High JudicialCouncil) were all implicated. As much as the setup created an inertia in decision making processes, it also put in place a healthy system of design management with the end-users. On another scale, the main challenge of the courthouse building is its insertion in the city of
Toulkarem while its scale stands out in the built environment. Separating the project into sequences helped get back to a seizable scale that relates to known references of historical Palestinian cities. The relation to the planted space through the filtering facade or the link to outside views through carved openings link the scale of the building to references of variable porosities found in the historical city.

Front entrance and public space. Photo by Mikaela Burstow

Finally, Toulkarem is located in the northern part of Palestine, next to two larger cities, Nablus andJenin. However, the decision to implement such a project in the marginalized city of Toulkarem arises questions related to the periphery of urbanization. The political idea of placing a piece of public life – through an institution – purposely not located in the center of an urban center but in the periphery is an opportunity for architects to think of the urban development at the scale of the country. The courthouse project was an occasion for our office to understand the importance of prioritizing peripheral zones.

Carving on stone western facade. Photo by Mikaela Burstow


Prosecution entrance. Photo by Mikaela Burstow

Main entrance hall. Photo by Mikaela Burstow

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