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Jacqueline A. Miller

Exiled from their homes in 1948 and still fighting for the right to return, Palestinians in Gaza City live in a state of permanent dislocation. Increased political conflict over the last few years has caused living conditions to deteriorate, and Palestinians detachment form their current “home” has created

a difficult design challenge. This master’s final project will test the way in which design can exist between the temporary and the permanent; creating architectural experiences that help [to a small degree] to alleviate desire without surrendering a displaced population’s hopes to one day return home.

Renered Image of Proposal

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LEBANON Gaza Aquifer National Water Carrier

Golan Heights

Body of water

Groundwater divide Groundwater flow



ISRAEL Sea of Galilee


With little room to expand and a continually growing population, density becomes a huge concern. Gaza City is the 6th densest city in the world, with the density level being close to 10,000 people/km2 . [To compare, the density of St. Paul is just a little over 2,000 people/km2 ]. The density of the city is distributed in a way that becomes increasingly concentrated as you approach the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Land space is a huge asset in Gaza City, and with military occupation surrounding the city the only edge that has any room for flexible growth is the edge next to the sea.

In June of 2007 Israel and Egypt implemented a blockade on the land boarders of the Gaza Strip in reaction to the election of the political group Hamas. The blockade effectively controls what enters and leaves the territory. Israel controls most of Gaza City’s municipal water supply and has cut off that supply. This has left Gaza City dependent on the Gaza aquifer. After years of war and bombing, combined with the lack of external supply, 50% of the population does not have access to clean water, 40% of the population does not have access to sewage collection systems, and most of the city is in shambles. The water supply of the Gaza aquifer is greatly depleted and being contaminated with raw sewage, resulting in the people of Gaza City having to drink contaminated water or over-salinated water. In these conditions the Mediterranean Sea is a daily torment to the people of Gaza City, taunting citizens in its abundance of an inconsumable treasure they so desire




Jordan River



Tel Aviv



Gaza City G AZ A

Dead Sea

Negev Desert

World Context

No Fis hin 1.5 nautic g Zone al miles

Regional Context LEBANON


. 6 n.m

Open Closed but Open for Exceptional Cases

y 20 y sinc e Ja

Az-Zahra Juhar ad-Dik



rael by Is forced mit En ing Li



Deir al-Balah





Crossing Points

Karni Crossing


ober sinc e Oct avy Israel N ing Li m

Access and Closures

Nahal Oz Crossing


2006 -

m. 12 n.

it Enf orce



Closed & Restricted Areas


500 Meter No-Go-Zone High Risk Zone Bani Suhella

Fences and Barriers Concrete Wall

Khan Yunis

Double Wire Fence with Watch Towers

Abasan al-Kabira

No F 1 na ishing Z utic al m one iles

Fishing Limits



Beit Lahia

Gaza City

d by




mitm ent-


Beit Hanoun


ini C om




Ash-Shati Camp



Tel Aviv



Acco rds 20

Joradan River



Erez Crossing

3 nauti cal mile


Further adding to the frustrations of Gazans are the strict boundaries that enclose them inside the territory they already don’t want to live in. Concrete walls, barbed-wire fences, and a giant sea of undrinkable water entrap the people of the Gaza City. The air rights above Gaza city are owed by Israel, Israel’s military controls what enters and leaves through the land borders, and Israel owns the water rights three nautical miles around the Gaza- Mediterranean Sea border.




Governorate Boundary 1950 Armistice


Built-up Area

Main City

Refugee Camp


Main Road

Local Road

Regional Road




Sufa Crossing Al-Bayuk

Rafah Crossing

Kerem Shalom Crossing

Above Image: Map of the region and water supplies Below Image: Section through the soil conditions below Gaza City; information retrieved from geological study: Melloul, A J. & Collin, M. (1994) The hydrological malaise of the Gaza Strip, Israel Journal of Earth Sciences, 43, 105-116.

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Information and statistics retrieved from National Geographic Special Issue “Water: Our Thirsty World.” April 2010, and

Density Comparison : St. Paul has a population of 285,000 people on 145 km2 of land. Gaza City has 450,000 people on 45 km2 of land. Each figure in the above diagrams represents 10,000 people.

St. Paul statistics retrieved from Gaza City statistics retrieved from

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Old Rubble FLOATING HOUSE/ MOS Architects/ Lake Huron Canada/ 2009

Rubble Recycling New Rubble The City The Space Left Over


THE CONTINUOUS ENCLAVE: STRATEGIES IN BYPASS URBANISM/ Viktor Ramos/ Final Student Project presented at Rice University/ 2009



FORM Cement 10% Water 12% Sand 18%

Air 5%

Agrregate 41% Sand 26%

Rubble 55%

Water 16% Cement 11% Air 6%

Diagrams and photos represented the reuse of rubble.

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How can architecture begin to address these desires while maintaining a temporary existence in this place? Design can begin by proposing moves that adaptively reuse the materials at hand but that are also aesthetically, physically, and experientially temporary and adaptable. I am calling the sum effects of these design moves New Gaza.

I am proposing that New Gaza take on the edge condition of the Mediterranean Sea by creating a new adaptable landscape. There are currently1.5 million tons of rubble in the city formed from years of bombing. This rubble takes up precious space and exists as a daily reminder of the people of Gaza City’s forced inhabitancy. The rubble will be broken into smaller pieces that would be able to be moved by one to two individuals. This would be done by employing the citizens of Gaza City to fragment the rubble by shear manpower with the use of sledgehammers. The rubble will then be placed in carts or trucks and taken to one of the three cement-producing facilities in Gaza City. Once at the facility, the rubble would be broken up into even smaller pieces and used as the aggregate to produce a cement mix.


ARRANGE - 36 lbs 3”

The cement would be poured into block modules that are 8 inches tall by 16 inches wide and vary in length from two to three feet. Two different colored molds would be produced that when stacked would alternate sectionally at staggered slopes. The rubble could then be experienced and interacted with in a variety of ways such as cover, seating, and stairs. The rubbled landscape would extend into the sea towards the water boundary lines three nautical SEAT miles off the coast and begin to challenge that boundary. This gesture of creating space for a group of people that have constantly had it taken away will also strengthen autonomy in Gaza City.

- 54 lbs


27/8” 3”




8” 16” LAYER 1 (plan)

6” 24”


LAYER 2 (plan)



LAYER 2 (section)

Increments vary

LAYER 1 (section)




MASDAR SOLAR DESALINATION FACILITY/ Foster & Partners/ Abu Dhabi/ 2008



New Gaza

FLOATING PEIR/ Lauren Traast/ New York City/ 2008 Competition


NEW GAZA “Since the main features of our present existence are dispossession, dispersion, and yet also a kind of power incommensurate with our stateless exile, I believe that essentially unconventional, hybrid, and fragmentary forms of expression should be used to represent us.” Edward Said, Palestinian Author

CCS CONTROL & SERVICES CENTER / Díaz y Díaz Arquitectos/ Ferrol, Galicia, Spain/ 2010


Top: Diagram of the dimensions and layout of new rubble modules Bottom: Image of wall interaction

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I am proposing that a series of small-scale, stand alone, solar-powered reverse osmosis desalination facilities surrounded by varying public event spaces occupy New Gaza. The desalination facilities will take salt water from the Mediterranean Sea and transform it into potable water. They will float in the sea, supported by high-density polystyrene floats anchored to the sea floor. The facilities will help to supply the city with fresh water and relieve the over-extracted aquifer, giving it time to replenish and self-clean. Permanent infrastructure carrying the potable water to the city would not be built. Instead the people of Gaza would come to the floating desalination facilities to retrieve water. This would become a daily ritual that will further bond the community and maintain the state of temporality they desire in Gaza City.

Pre-Treatment Sand Filter Carbon Filter

Sea Water

Reverse Osmosis Energy Recovery Device

Post-Treatment Drinking Water

Reverse Osmosis Membranes

Remineralization Intake Pump

High Pressure Pump


Each desalination facility will produce 200 m3 of water a day (roughly 53,000 gallons of water). The seawater will pass through three phases in the process of eliminating the salt. The first phase is the pre-treatment phase. The seawater enters the desalination facility and passes through four, three meter in diameter, sand filters to rid the water of large inconsumable pollutants such as borate and calcium. Next the water will pass through seven, three meter in diameter, carbon active filters which rid the water of smaller scale pollutants such as magnesium and iodide. Lastly for the pre-treatment phase, the water will be chlorinated to break up residual pollutants other than the salt. When this phase is complete the water is ideally left with only hydrogen, oxygen, and sodium. After pre-treatment, the water enters the reverse osmosis phase. Reverse Osmosis is the process where water is forced through a membrane that catches the salt and only allows the fresh water to pass through. The water is pushed through these membranes by a high-pressure valve, which moves the water through the membrane at a rate of 75 bar. In order to produce the desired amount of 200m3, each facility requires 120, 8� diameter spiral wound membranes. They are Top: Section perspective of desalination facility Bottom: Plans of desalination room and courtyard above

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in an array of 10 membranes with 8 pressure vessels each and arranged in 3 columns of 2. After the water is pushed through the membranes in this phase, the salt that has been removed from the water (the brine) is dispensed directly back into the sea, and the water moves into the third and final phase of the design, the post-treatment phase. The post-treatment phase is when the water passes through a two-meter in diameter limestone contractor. The contractor adds little amounts of calcium and bicarbonates back into the water to neutralize the acidity of the water and reintroduce minerals into the water that are good for the body, but that were extracted in the pre-treatment phase. All of the equipment required for the process will be shown in the renders I will produce. The equipment is made out of titanium and the floors and walls surrounding the equipment will be made out of the same material used to portray the rubble. All of the process will occur below a community courtyard where the people of Gaza City will come to collect the potable water. Each facility will require 66 megawatts of energy to run the desalination process for 24 hours a day. All of the energy will come from solar power.

Top: Diagram showing the desalination process (information for numbers retrieved from Lynntech Water Treatment expertise

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The average daily temperature of Gaza City is 91 degrees F and 90% of the days in a year are sunny, making the sun one of Gaza City’s greatest natural resources. At its geographical location each desalination facility will require 45 photo voltaic panels oriented towards the south at an optimal angle of 350 to produce the required amount of energy. These panels will be placed above the courtyard space in four rows. The layout of the panels will act in dual-purpose providing energy for the facility and cover from the

sun above the courtyard. All of the materials used to support the panels above, as well as the ground cover for the courtyard will be dark, Azobe wood, which is a dark red wood that holds up well in saltwater. This wood will be placed in strips of 2 inch by 12-foot long patterns of eight at a time. The wood will be oriented east to west. They are oriented in this direction to continue the aesthetic of the rubble reaching towards the sea.





The event space surrounding the desalination facilities is also an important part to the livability of Gaza City. Public space is very limited in this immensely dense city fabric. The cleared space in the city from the rubble may allow for spaces like this inside of the city,

but along the waters edge it allows Gazans to have a temporary reprieve from its overcrowded, narrow streets. This will also allow them to re-engage with the recreation of the sea. The public space would consist of space for Gazans to fish and dock boats, swim, and sit in floating gardens with Mangrove trees.

Rendered image of Courtyard above showing the location of the solar panels Numbers based on solar power studies conducted at the Islamic University of Gaza

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mit fis hin g li 3n m 3n m

fis hin g li


Edward Said, a Palestinian author wrote in the introduction of his book on Palestinian lives, “Since the main features of our present existence are dispossession, dispersion, and yet also a kind of power incommensurate with our stateless exile, I believe that essentially unconventional, hybrid, and fragmentary forms of expression should be used to represent us.”

ne w

fis h


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fis h






fis h




This diagram attempts to show the fragmentation of all of the parts of New Gaza coming together over time. It starts at the top with the city as it exsits (the black represents the rubble). Gradually, the rubble is moved to coast and New Gaza is formed starting in the north where the density is the highest.

Key Rubble The City The Space Left Over

New Gaza Desalination Facilities Floating Event Space

The role of architecture in the world at large, is something I continue to grapple with and have tried to explore in this Master’s Final Project. For me architecture is a social art that revolves around a person’s ability to identify with place and their belonging to that place. Architecture is a medium that creates new cognitive experiences that reflect the material-social-political environments that frame everyday life.

in one place and their existence in the place they currently are. In this case, I believe architecture can embrace both sides; it can create place and belonging for the temporary and still allow people to hold onto the hope of returning. Gazans should rethink the environment in which they live and embrace the idea that it could be no less void of place of belonging than the home they are coming from and wish to return to.

Palestinians’ presence in the world is being challenged. There is a huge tension in Palestinians’ desire to exist

Edges Gaza City Proper Floating Bridges Fishing Limits

Renered Image looking back at Gaza City Shore.

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I would like to thank Blaine Brownell, Gayla Lindt, Andrzej Piotrowski, Ozayr Saloojee, and all of my classmates. The impact you have had on my life and the amount of knowledge I have gained from you is inexpressible and I am forever in your debt.

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Jacqueline A. Miller a difficult design challenge. This master’s final project will test the way in which design can exist between the tempo...


Jacqueline A. Miller a difficult design challenge. This master’s final project will test the way in which design can exist between the tempo...