Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentShapira Yehotal
SubjectNon-Structural Knowledge and Practice: Architectural
Testimony in East Jerusalem
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus


 “Judaization” is an NRA (National Religious Associations) project that seeks, among other aims, to turn the national-religious-messianic symbols into focal symbols of Israeli society and of the nation. This project (underway since the late 1970s; Salai, 1992) is manifested in the occupation of existing property (previously occupied by Palestinians), and in creating new public buildings. It is difficult to pinpoint and categorize this project as architecture, due to the NRAA (National Religious Association Architecture) practice that seems to have no clear plan, giving the impression of elusive and haphazard interventions.

The approach of “non-structural” architectural analysis is developed here to decipher the NRAA, adhering to François Laruelle’s “non-philosophy” (2013). The assumption is that architecture is an immanent part of the Real, appearing as a variable experience in built environments, and that it is this which determines architecture, rather than any internal disciplinary classification.

The architectural practices of the NRA can be characterized by two simultaneous models of contradictory action. One is the use of subversive tactics (De Certeau, 1984), challenging the architectural hegemony in order to carry out reformative operations. The other, using legitimate tools, imitates characteristic State models of actions. It is in this ability of the NRA to resolve opposite modes of architecture that the source of their power lies.

To decipher the non-structural architecture, the present research employs testimony as its methodology, analyzing actual voices (of the interviewees who participate in the creation of the NRAA) as well as the testimony of material objects (houses, spaces of the NRA communities). Through an understanding of the use of testimony as a power apparatus, the research approach challenges the common perceptions of testimony as illuminating the voices of the Other.

The Introduction presents a literature survey of the non-structural, of testimony as the research method, and the research materials. Chapter One describes the dual and contradictory model of action in the NRA architecture in general. Chapter Two describes the contradictory mechanism expressed in the NRA complexes as emphasizing Being by means of Israeli and Jewish signposts, in contrast to the restrictive dwelling conditions. Chapter Three presents the contradictory model of architectural construction that employs all dimensions and means to achieve its aims, and describes the unique urban organization of the NRA communities. Chapter Four explores the radicalization process occurring between the actual messianic architecture of the visitor centers, and a visionary plan that presents the Temple as the center of an exclusively Jewish Jerusalem. Chapter Five offers testimonies of the experiences and mythologies that lie at the basis of the creation of architecture and of the city.

Turning to the non -structural does not mean the degrading or erasure of architecture. On the contrary, it enables an examination of architecture’s reality in the built environment as it is created. Deciphering the non-structural can contribute to architectural knowledge of the unknown and buried layers that determined the architecture, and that may be employed by architects in their decisions on how to act in conflictual built environments.