ARCHITECTURE CONTROLS VIOLENCE

| Among Arab Community in Israel | 

In recent years, the issue of violence has become a major part of the Arabs daily life in Israel. Increasing number of murders, and the use of weapons has surged to become a daily news. Although Arab citizens consist only 20% of the country's population, In the past three years, 62% of victims in cases of violence or crime were Arab citizens. And the number is on the rise every year, only to peak last year with 91 Arab victims, including women and children.

 

The issue of violence among Arab society in Israel is on the agenda as a major civil problem that undermines public order and threatens the security of individuals as well as the society. Per a survey of the Arab Social Security Index in 2019, 40% of Arab citizens live with a lack of personal security in their residential area or its surroundings.

 

In this project, I offer another approach - the relationship between violence and crime in Arab society in Israel and the issue of construction and planning within the Arab communities. Where I look for answers on how architecture can maintain spaces of security in response to violence in Arab communities in Israel?

 

Naturally, there are multiple causes that influence the development and spread of the phenomenon, including and not restricted to, frustration resulting from the political, socio-economical and historical situation of Arabs in Israel, inadequate police forces and enforcement practices, and a flawed relationship between Arab citizens and enforcement authorities (which can be inferred from that 74% participants in a recent survey among Arabs in Israel, expressed their distrust in the police).

 

From an in-depth investigation of the issue of violence in Arab society, I have concluded that  Umm al-Fahem bears the highest number of murders and violence among all Arab communities in Israel. Hence, this is the city I chose to focus on in this project.

 

First, by creating a map of the homicides that took place in Umm al-Fahem over the past three years, in hope to find a spatial link to the phenomenon, I found that violence and murder was spread all over the city, which made it difficult for me to choose a specific site in the city where I could intervene. Therefore, I decided that instead of seeking risky areas where violence is more common, I searched for safe zones where crime occurrence is almost unheard of, the mosques.

Then, during learning the city’s topography and its important elements, it was clear that mosques are spread across all Umm al-Fahem and its surroundings.

The mosque is a sacred religious structure for Muslims, people gather there 5 times a day to pray, a place of gathering. In addition to the religious and social aspects of the mosque, its unique architectural design makes it eye-catching.

 

My intervention in the project divides the city into three layers, where each layer serves as a monitoring tool for the layer below it. The first layer is the layer of minarets, the highest part of the mosque, which overlooks the whole city and adds a sense of supervision and serves as an agent that looks after the surrounding from above and guards the residents. However, because of the density of houses in Umm al-Fahem, the minarets will mainly be used as a surveillance tool for all roofs, which consist the second layer of supervision in my project. Utilizing the roof layer, I add to the urban space another level of supervision of the city's alleys, which is the third and main layer of my intervention. The alleys in Umm al-Fahem are considered dangerous areas with high potential to witness development of violent incidents.

I believe that due to the complex dynamics between the police and the residents of Umm al-Fahem, it is very important to intensify social control in the city. It is a major tool based on the existing social contract between the neighbors, which can be utilized to increase the level of security of the residents and fight the phenomenon of violence.

Jana Omary

© 2020 by JANA OMARY