“Engineered Paradises”, a thesis by Zarith Pineda from Tulane University, looks into a possible future for Hebron, exploring the condition where peace never comes to the West Bank, but where the mutual destruction of both sides is addressed through the creation of safe spaces for the expression of universal emotions. The thesis proposes that in this way, both parties may be unified by their plight. The project was created based on observation of the city of Hebron and on-site interviews with Hebronites. Their true stories then became the narrative dictating the program of the project.
Engineered Paradises proposes four constructions: three so-dubbed “Engineered Paradises”, Catharsis, Encounter and Rest, and an elevated walkway connecting all three buildings as well as providing a viewpoint to observe the urbicide of Hebron.
For the purpose of the project, urbicide was defined as spatial disintegration, sites of violence, architecture of surveillance or sites of occupation. From mapping locations exemplary of these locations, the path of the walkway was decided, and the locations of each of the Engineered Paradises decided by the places with the most tension. The walkway provides both sides of the conflict with access to the buildings and separates them from the conditions of urbicide at ground level.
Each of the Engineered Paradises looks at a different emotion necessary for expression in the conflict. Catharsis is a tower designed for the mutual expression of grief, despair and mourning. Encounter is a series of pods meant for the discrete contact of members of both sides. Rest is an oasis meant to be a place of peace and comfort for the more seasoned Hebronites who have experienced much of the conflict. In each instance, the thesis explores the possibilities of architecture to engage intangible human emotions and the affective quality of such architecture – whether it can reconcile or help catalyze empathy between two opposing parties.