Urban Farming for Desegregation

This project explores Acre; a city of 47,000 residents located by the west-north part of the Israeli coastline. It is one of the most ancient cities in the world, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Early Bronze Age. Although the old city's urban development was characterised by a vernacular architecture and organic growth, its current condition reveals a reversed reality. My project seeks to explore the causes for this reversal in order to speculate on a healthier spatial organization. Thus, the departure point of this thesis is the moment of shift between the organic and the forced urban forms.

 

Acre is one of the few ethnically mixed cities in Israel. It is extremely segregated, with most Palestinians living in the old city, and Jewish residents living in the new one. Due to decades of social deprivation, it suffers from an above average unemployment rate and an extreme poverty rate. Today, the city is peripheral and suburban, and its residents are fleeing. For those reasons, Acre has become the backyard of the area. Both the Lack of resistance by the residents, and the low value of land, allowed for the formation of the city as an accumulation of what I call disintegrated enclaves.

 

Following Michel Foucault’s term disciplinary mechanisms[1], I use the term Disciplinary sites, to describe sites which are using surveillance as an apparatus of power over disempowered communities. Those sites are separated from their environment by walls or fences, and have a limited number of entries that are also under surveillance and control.

 

I read the old city as an epitome of this phenomenon. All of the inhabitants of the old city are Palestinian, most of them were located there with the establishment of Israel in 1948, and have no rights over their homes.

 

Disciplinary sites are necessary to maintain social order. However, the most important thing about them is their relation to their surroundings. Due to the adjacency and quantity of these disintegrated enclaves in Acre, they no longer integrated with their surroundings. They disassemble the city. I propose to open up these metaphorically and physically enclosed enclaves, to create seamless continuity throughout the city.

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[1]           Foucault, Michel., 1977, Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage ‏

Acre's historical water system was comprised of an aqueduct that led water for public use through a distribution pool to a network of Sebils (public water fountains) throughout the city. Inspired by the idea to preserve the mechanism of democratizing the land as was operated by the ancient water system, I propose an urban element that will integrate Acre's enclaves of disciplinary sites into an urban unity using urban farming. Instead of using water, the proposed system will provide food.

 

By penetrating these enclaves, this proposed element will gradually open them up to the public and create connectivity and continuity throughout the city.