Merkaz Leshalom Ben Leumi Be Hemmat-Gadar: International Peace Center at Hammat-Gadar
The current sociopolitical climate in Israel is one of unrest and distrust. The physical boundaries of the country seem to change with every war and conflict, and levels of security, which would be considered invasive in America, have become commonplace for the citizens of Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and the neighboring countries. The goal of this project is to design an environment in which Jewish and Arabic youth and educators can learn together in an environment that is safe, comfortable, and stimulating. The site was chosen for its historical and cultural richness. It has alternated between being home to both cultures throughout the years and is now in the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights between Israel, Jordan, and Syria. This project is about juxtaposition of the old ways against the hope of what may become and the transformation of familiar enemies into unacquainted friends. The project juxtaposes decaying ruins against the newness of modern architecture and the rejuvenation of youth.
Architecture, as a visual cue for intuitive conflict resolution, has the power to incite imagination and promote intellectual and emotional transformation. This project acknowledges that thoughtful architecture can manipulate the consciousness of those who use it. Existing fragmentary ruins on the site engage users to resolve the missing pieces, perhaps not merely in the architecture, but also in their lives. The juxtaposition of familiar materiality assembled in nontraditional ways against the permanence of existing ruins should create an experiential environment. The resulting space should facilitate diverse interpersonal communication as a direct result of its architectural organization.