Designing Civic Encounter | 2011

Urban Transformations in the Arab World

RAMALLAH, JULY 21 – 24, 2011

Symposium . Tour . Workshop . Publication

Yazid Anani (Birzeit), Shumon Basar (London), Taysir Batniji (Gaza/Paris), Suhad Bishara (Haifa), Teddy Cruz (San Diego), Rami Daher (Amman), Hangar (Beirut), Alessandro Petti (Decolonizing Architecture, Beit Sahur), Ahmad Saleh (Ramallah), Muhammad Shtayyeh (Ramallah), Omar Yousef (Jerusalem).

Curated by ArtTerritories (Shuruq Harb and Ursula Biemann)

DESIGNING CIVIC ENCOUNTER is a series of interventions engaging in existing and potential forms of urban development and public culture. The event will unfold through a bus tour traversing urban locations within and around Ramallah city enabling debates and conversations at different stations, a two-day symposium on questions of urban transformations in Palestinian and other Arab cities, and a full day workshop with visionary social architect Teddy Cruz.

Inspired by ongoing dialogues on our blog and by the wider civic movements in the region, ArtTerritories proposes an open forum for the inquiry and discussion of the public urban experience under the current trends in planning, financing and building practices. Although Ramallah is a relatively small city, it has experienced radical urban expansions and population growth since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and the consequent establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1996. Real Estate is the main target for foreign corporate investment today. What kind of living space do these investments create?

The bus tour will highlight a number of distinctive urban landscapes that can be considered emblematic of wider political issues taking place in Palestine. In a close reading of contemporary urban restructuring in the region, the symposium brings to light that the Palestinian context is not as unique and isolated as it may appear but in fact shares many commonalities with rapid developments in Beirut, Amman and Dubai.

The project is conceived as a vibrant multimedia laboratory of ideas and debate. During four days, the city will be under investigation through cultural and artistic initiatives,innovative research projects and political visions. Attracting an active local and international roster of architects, artists, educators, environmentalists, community activists and politicians, the public event hopes to be a catalyst to produce new civic imaginations and alternative urban policies towards a more inclusive social sustainability.

English and Arabic / Free Admission

A digital publication and video recordings will be made available at

The project is initiated and produced by ArtTerritories, online publishing platform for Art and Visual Culture in the Arab World co-founded by Shuruq Harb and Ursula Biemann.

For more information please contact info [at]