Following the completion in
2007 of Riwaq’s comprehensive architectural survey,
which resulted in the publication of ‘Riwaq’s Registry
of Historic Buildings’, it was revealed that almost 50%
of the historic buildings in rural areas of the West
Bank and Gaza are located in around 50 villages. Hence
it has become Riwaq’s vision to focus on those 50
villages for the foreseeable future, working on
rehabilitation projects to target improvement of
services, infrastructure and living conditions of the
public, private and surrounding spaces.
The 50 Villages Project is not only seen as resulting in
the protection of 50% of the Palestinian architectural
heritage, but also as a tool for socioeconomic
development, generating employment opportunities in the
village, disseminating traditional building knowledge
and, most importantly, revitalizing the historic center
and reinstating it as part of daily life.
One of the most important elements is to get the
inhabitants and owners of properties in the historic
centers interested and involved in rehabilitation, which
can only happen with the involvement of the municipal or
village council, local NGOs and individuals with
authority and influence in the local community.
Rehabilitation projects are labor-intensive, resulting
in many hours of employment and acquisition of skills,
and include both preventative and full-scale
conservation work, a research component that studies the
potential of each village, as well as community
involvement activities and cultural events.
As well as improving basic standards of the living
conditions, the aim is to revitalize the historic
centers and attract economic and touristic activities.
Additionally, rehabilitation can be a tool for both
short-term and long-term job creation in the village,
building the capacity of both the local community and
municipality, as well as providing much-needed spaces
for public and private use.