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Nazareth | Oliver Shalabi
The project sits on the border between 2 cities, Nazareth and Nazareth illit. Both cities lie in the northern region of Israel.

Nazareth, is the largest Arab city in Israel, and it has been been growing for thousands of years. It’s a layered complex city  which was influenced by many cultures over the history. Its religious and historical significance Has turned it into a center of the region, supporting up to 200,000 people from within the city as well as villages around it.

Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi-POSTER 1 (1)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

However few years after the establishment of Israel , Part of the land of Nazareth city was confiscated in order to build  a new city – Called Nazareth illit ( Upper Nazareth). The new developed city was first designed as a small Jewish neighborhood within the city of Nazareth, however few years after the development of the neighborhood it withdrew its boundaries and became an independent city called Nazareth Illit. Since Nazareth illit was pre-planned and developed, unlike the spontaneous growth of Nazareth, it slowly became the center of the region supporting all the villages while Nazareth’s potential has been declining ever since, many of the functions from the city center shifted towards the periphery of the city as well as to the new Nazareth illit. This has led to some sort of non-balance between 2 cities that are separated with an intercity road – called road 75.

Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi (10)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

Both cities are completely different, in their lifestyles, architecture and typologies. Nazareth illit can be defined as the modern city with its typical apartment building blocks and industrial areas, while Nazareth can be defined as a traditional Arab city with its vernacular low-rise single houses . The population in Nazareth has been growing while its area almost didn’t change since the development of Nazareth illit (which has automatically blocked Nazareth from growing), and today the area of the new Nazareth illit is almost 3.5 times the area of Nazareth with half of its population. Meaning the quality of life in Nazareth declined and vice versa.

Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi (6)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

All this has led to  a non-balance between both neighboring sides, not to mention the social and political tensions between both ethnicities of both cities (Arabs and Jews). And today, Both cities are laying next to each other, separated by an intercity road named road 75.

Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi (5)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi


The idea was to take this “linear” Border( Road 75) that separates both sides, diffuse it and break it down to create a new realm rather than a clean line dividing both sides. The area between both cities which I refer to as the “Buffer Zone” is an empty space that grew spontaneously between both sides. The idea is to take this Buffer zone, which acts as a black hole that disconnects both sides, and turn it into a new center which will support the whole region and eventually connect both sides. In addition, adding a new infrastructure system (light train) which will connect this  new proposed center with the cores of both cities which are :

–          The old city center of Nazareth

–          The industrial area of Nazareth illit

Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi (9)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

The new center that connects to both cities, creates a third layer or a third city based on both cities, which will define a new order in which there are more opportunities for both sides.

In the new proposed center, there are residential functions, Public, And an educational campus.

 Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi-POSTER 1 (2)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

After working on the general master plan of the center, within the urban context I decided to develop the educational campus building.

The typology of the complex is organic flowing forms which enables the building to  merge and blend in the existing topography in order to create a subtle, minimal footprint on the site. This flowing typology also enables the connections between both sides in a smooth and gradual way as well as in between nature and the built environment.

Arch2o-Nazareth Oliver Shalabi (2)

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

Author : Oliver Shalabi

Sex : Male

Institutions or courses attended:  – Technion IIT Israel institute of technology, Architecture faculty, Haifa, Israel, 2008-2013

Name of the project : The third layer – bridging the divide

Function : Educational campus

Site (just for architecture projects) :, Nazareth , Israel

Year :2013

Name of the istitution : Technion, Design final project studio, Haifa, Israel

Arch2o has received this project from our readers in order to participate in the Students week 4 event, you may submit your own work for publication in the Students Week 5 by sending it to igraduate(at)arch2o.com

Courtesy of Oliver Shalabi

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