M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentNachman-Farchi Dalia
SubjectTowards Conservation with a Lower Case c'
Conservation Challenges in a Mixed City Fabric
The Case Study of Ajamy; Jaffa
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


The challenge posed by the conservation of urban fabric becomes even greater in multi-cultural, conflicted environments that have been scarred by destruction and displacement. The context of exile raises questions about the values on which long-term, sustainable conservation should be based, as well as dilemmas regarding the relationship of conservation to urban regeneration and spatial justice, manifested in urban mobility, memory, belonging, and communal identity. Conservation is today seen as a form of national coercion and/or commercialization, giving rise to neglect of local communities, especially where minority groups are concerned. This requires the planner to assume new civic and ethic responsibilities that require engaged research and professionalism.

The research examines the possibility of ‘conservation with a lowercase c[1]‘based on social and professional responsibilities. It exposes and analyzes current processes of conservation in a conflicted environment, and investigates their underlying assumptions as well as their effects and limitations as compared with the stories of the place told by residents of the community and those to which the built forms and informal practices bear silent witness.

Methodologically, the research links architectural, anthropological, and ethnographic tools, in order to produce a conservation-oriented interpretation of categories deriving from theories of everyday life. By studying local characteristics as a part of a wider cultural range, the research suggests integrating the intangible with the tangible aspect of a site.

This study is of Ajami, a neighborhood in Jaffa that is a paradigm of a mixed neighborhood comprising a medley of spatial and historical interruptions, marginal situations, informal character, and various stages of development and destruction. Ajami is unique in that it is officially demarcated as an area for urban fabric conservation.

The urban heritage investigated via spatial practices in Ajami has been collated under two main headings - the URBAL (Urban-Rural) and the SEASHORE. Both exemplify the potential, the challenges, and the dilemmas of definition, implementation, scope, methodology as well as the ethics of ‘conservation, with a lower-case c’.

[1]  "Conservation with a lower-case c" is a variant of Upton's formulation of "architecture with a lower-case a" (Upton, 2003), which refers to the marginal architecture outside the hegemonic circle.