Decolonizing Architecture/Art Residency (DAAR) is an art and architecture collective set up by Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal and Eyal Weizman, based in Palestine. Their work is a critical examination of the role played by architecture in the occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Their work imagines the “decolonization” of Palestine through new uses for oppressive Israeli infrastructure. The evacuated Israeli military fortress of Oush Grab becomes a public park and a haven for starlings, storks and birds of prey that use the site to rest while migrating - birds recognise no national boundaries. A surburban-looking Israeli settlement - one of many heavily guarded hilltop outposts aggressively encroaching on Palestinian territories in the guise of innocent family dwellings - is redesigned as an interconnected community living space.
The centrepiece of their exhibition is a life-sized section through the abandoned Palestinian Parliament in a suburb of Jerusalem - a parliament that has never been used. Construction started during the 1996 Oslo Accord when peace seemed possible and was halted in 2003 after the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, marked the failure of the political process.
The project began with the discovery that – mistakenly or intentionally – the building was constructed on Israel’s unilaterally declared border within Jerusalem. The parliament is partly within Israeli territory and partly within Palestinian controlled land – a small strip, no wider than the border line, is in legal limbo.
DAAR will build the section of the abandoned Palestine Parliament that the border line crosses in three dimensions. This suspended and elongated structure will act as a forum for debate on the future of Palestine during the exhibition.
How can political participation be organised for a partially exiled and geographically dispersed people? Palestine’s complex and developing nationhood offers the opportunity to think beyond the nation state as conceived and imposed by former European colonial powers.
DAAR projects have been shown at the Venice and Istanbul Biennales, Tate in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among many others. In 2010 DAAR was awarded the Prince Claus Prize for Architecture.
Common Assembly is a project by Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, Eyal Weizman, Nicola Perugini with Yazeed Anani, Nishat Awan, Ghassan Bannoura, Benoit Burquel, Suzy Harris-Brandts, Runa Johannessen, Zografia Karekou, Cressida Kocienski, Lejla Odobasic, Carina Ottino, Elizabeth Paden, Sameena Sitabkhan, Amy Zion.