Mobility and urban livability in Palestine

Research, Ongoing

(completed) This is a research by design project, involving students, in Nablus and Ramallah, two cities in Palestine. The project was supported by the Brussels government, and implemented in cooperation with An Najah National University in Nablus, and Antwerp University. The purpose of the workshops was to mobilize the human capital that is present in the related academic programmes by involving students, researchers and policy advisers in urban mobility thinking, and exchanging ideas and experiences between Palestinian and Belgian students and experts. The project included preliminary training of the Belgian participants on the political and geographical context, followed by two times one week onsite work, time that was divided between site visits, studio work and interventions by local experts. The final results have been published in the book 'Transforming Mobility: Collective Transport and Spaces in Nablus and Ramallah'.

Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest

1/07/16 → 28/02/17

A team of students and professors associated with the VUB Master Programme in Urban Design and Spatial Planning (STeR*) and the Cosmopolis research group work this week (Sept. 18-24, 2016) at an unusual location, namely the Center for Urban and Regional Planning of An Najah University in Nablus.

Cooperation was established with An Najah University in Nablus, Birzeit University near Ramallah, as well as with the urban planning department of Antwerp University. The Brussels Minister of Mobility and Public Works supports this project.

The project includes two weeks on-site work, time which will be divided between site visits, studio work, and interventions by local experts. During the first week (Sept. 18-24) problems related to mobility and urban livability are indentified and mapped, data is collected, and experts are interviewed. The studio work is interspersed with a numer of lectures by Palestinian and Belgian professors and locally operating organizations (including UN-Habitat), and are consolidated at regular intervals by presentations and discussions.

The second week on-site will be organized from November 27th to December 3rd and will first and foremost focus on designing solutions. Designed solutions will to a considerable extent rely on information that was obtained during the first week, and on additionally collected data in the interim period between the on-site studios (October-November).

The research and design is organized around two study areas and study themes. In Nablus, we work on the urban east-west axis, with the aim of organizing public transport more efficiently here and at the same time reducing traffic related burdens for residents. In Ramallah, we work around the central market area, where pedestrians are at the core of the urban dynamics, but where cars actually dominate the streets. Public space, traffic circulation and pedestrianization may be key concepts in the future design for this area.

As a final outcome of the workshop series, a book will be composed, and an exhibition will be organized. The project team is already looking forward to this.

The professors of STeR* hope that this cooperation will be continued, in order to allow Palestinian students to gain experience in Belgium in the future.

Project organisation - VUB Brussels:

Prof. Dr. Kobe Boussauw
Prof. Dr. Fabio Vanin
Msc. Kristien Van den Houte 

Project support:

Prof. Ir. Dirk Lauwers (Antwerp University)

Project organisation - Palestine:

Prof. Dr. Sameer Abu Eisheh (An Najah University)
Prof. Dr. Khaled Ahmad Al-Sahili (An Najah University)
Prof. Dr. Ali Abed Hamid (An Najah University)
Dr. Ahmad Saleh Sadaqa (former National Spatial Plan Office)