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Watch: About Riwaq

 

   
About

When we began in 1991, we recognized the challenge before us as we tried to understand the world of cultural heritage. Harnessing the energy and skills of students, architects, archaeologists, and historians, Riwaq took on the imposing work of the National Register of Historic Buildings: a 13-year project (1994-2007) resulting in the publication of 3 impressive volumes that include detailed information, maps and photos of some 420 villages in 16 districts of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Other projects may not have had the same grandiose vision, but certainly they boast valuable impacts. For example, shifting the conception of conservation from an expensive and elitist activity into a meaningful skill that sustains livelihoods, Riwaq's  “Job Creation Through Conservation” has successfully transformed cultural heritage into an important economic tool.

Realizing the scarcity and limitations on human and financial resources—and the many obstacles resulting from the alarming destruction of Palestine's cultural heritage—Riwaq has come to understand the unfortunate reality that we are no longer in a position to protect the cultural heritage in Palestine as such. We have come to realize that we must concentrate our collaborative efforts on the protection and revitalization of particular pieces of that layer: single individual buildings, parts, or—whenever possible—whole architectural fabrics of a few historic centers.

Utilizing data provided in Riwaq’s National Register of Historic Buildings, we’ve been able to conclude that by protecting about 50 villages, we would succeed in protecting almost 50% of the historic buildings in Palestine, encompassing some 50,230 historic buildings. Consequently Riwaq is aware of the necessity to shift its priorities and resources from the conservation of single historic buildings to entire areas. This entails both the rather short-term physical preventive conservation of whole historic centers, as well as the long-term challenging processes of social and economic revitalization of these increasingly deserted historic centers. We believe Riwaq has succeeded in answering a vital question: What does it take to rehabilitate a whole town, not only physically but socially, culturally, and economically?


 

 

   


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50 Villages Project

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.

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