Redevelopment of Manger square

While public space is disregarded as an architectural and urbanistic design element in the contemporary Palestinian city, it is anchored in the space typologies that form historic Palestinian cities. Spatial devices that constitute the urban fabric have a rich vocabulary of outside shared, public and/or semi-public spaces connecting different levels and serving as an extension of the private space. In adapting to specific site parameters, climatic conditions and social interactions, the Palestinian spatial typologies are the bond of historic cities. They are an essential part of an urban fabric that is flexible, can adapt or transform and ties links between private and public spheres in an overall city that is rather typological than iconic. Yet, in today’s architectural language those typologies are disregarded.

The Nativity square is of another type of public space. It is in contact with the Church of the Nativity and has a size that is different and less adapted to local climatic conditions. By its location, size, shape and use, it has a unique role in the city. Historically, it marks the shift in the city’s politics from selfmanaged urbanism to power-based urbanism. The Ottomans decided to create a large square as part of an urban plan, tearing down a whole existing built area. The square is part of a change from appropriation to attribution of space in the city.

The aim of the workshop is the work on the relation between attributed and appropriated spaces in the city. It questions the scalability of historic space typologies in contemporary conditions. It interrogates the adaptability of Palestinian cities to a larger public space. What would the language of elemental urbanistic devices found in the historic city look like if they were to be in interaction with a larger public square ? How would the private and public functions work in the context of the Nativity square ? How can appropriation of space relate to a larger public space ?
The square has been built at a transitional period in terms of urban authority, it represents its beginnings. As such it exists today with no features connecting it to characteristics of typological public spaces of the old city. However, it has the advantage of presenting a flexible platform that can and is being used, for the best (events, assemblies, playground) or for the worse (parking lot).

Project partners: Bethlehem Municipality, The city of Paris, AFD

Bethlehem Palestine

79 Caritas Street Bethlehem

T +972 (2) 2741255
F +972 (2) 2741333

Paris France

4, rue Robert de Flers 75015

T +33(6) 81 08 20 82

Bethlehem Palestine

T +972 (5) 05200399
F +972 (2) 2741333 →

© aauanastas 2014