Love Stories of a Place

Bergen School of Architecture︎Thank you

The website consist of connected and interdependent fragments.
I am weaving together a dream.


I am inviting you to dive into my world.
I encourage you to immerse and involve yourself .
To get moved by your inner joy.
Seeking what the mystery could be.
The constructed narrative is its limitation.
When stepping out of the dream you are required to dwell and reflect
on what it could mean. 

The curse of this is; when giving meaning you have to break the surface of the dream.

All the best,
Maria Helena

"To See a World..."

“Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence"

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear.

who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the Snake and Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight,
Some are Born to Endless Night.

William Blake

What is the intention behind the project?

It is important to gain an awareness of the power of narratives to develop a skill in critical thinking. The predominant effect of my project is to create awareness of how a place lives in memory, stories and emotions. There will always be an agent, visible or invisible, behind rhetoric and chosen medium of communication and visualization. A story, a drawing, or a map will never be objective and the question of “what does the document do” is as important as “what does it represent.”

I started with questioning if spatial design can release tension and unbalance in trigger points between involved agents and stakeholders.

The thesis work ‘Loves stories of a Place’ aims to address the power in storytelling, to emphasize the constant flux between the imaginary and the place itself, and how the image of a place and the physical place mutually reinforces an identity. A place should be read as a living multi-layered character; temporary and plastic rather than static and fixed.

In my project I am focusing more on creating room for discussion than on specific proposals of preservation on the site. I aim to raise an alternative image altered by an understanding of the Thirdspace; an almost magical exit to another frame of reference. The Thirdspace becomes an important and unexpected harbor.

I have collected perspectives of various agents to collect a multi-layered understanding of the situation. By collecting stories, I aim to provide a general overview over the site’s complexity. It is crucial to address the agricultural value, social value, and environmental value the place possesses.

In my work I have collected an archive of ancient history, recent history, various agents, and looked into the masterplan of the area.

I am addressing various active key agents, key moments, competing agendas, and how they are connected or neglected, as well as the legal and social notion of ownership over the territory. Lifta can potentially unfold a space open for plurality.

Agents in short: The state of Israel and municipality of Jerusalem, the archaeology, the Jewish religious men, the hikers, tourist, Palestinian refugees, second generation relatives of refugees, conservation and preservation department, activists, and students of Bezalel.

A daydream?

In Jerusalem, the truth is often much less important than the myth. ‘In Jerusalem, don’t ask me the history of facts,’ ‘Take away the fiction and there’s nothing left.’

Quote by Palestinian Dr Nazmi al-Jubeh to be found in the preferance in Jerusalem the biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Jerusalem stone made from the rock at site; A human creation to provide shelter in relation to the surrounding nature. Image by M.H.K.N

The role of an Architect is in transformation 

The body of my work is an expiration of how one can rethink architectural practice in a post-modern era.

Garcès writes in the discipline of art and culture however her theory is adaptable to other fields in the society, she herself also states, as I interpret it, that to be honest with the real is not about produce and generate new perspective of the existing image of the world, rather to redefine it. The real? That is us writes Jon Sobrino.

(Garcès, 2012, p.2)

We are constantly learning -  Garcès is quoting poet Ingeborg Bachmann; every creation ”educates us in a new perception, in a new feeling, in a new awareness.”*

(Garcès, 2012, p.5)* Fragments of text from my Social Science Essay

To change the perception of the world, one has to start within one's own body as we’re at first hand relating to the world and each other through our skin, flesh, and senses. Thereafter, through our learned and intuitive understanding of what this contact means the journey begins.

At this moment our planet is suffering from the high paced production which results in unpredictable weather conditions and catastrophes. It is a result of neoliberal spaces created of capitalistic values of growth, efficiency and separation which has resulted in increasing injustice between people.

A fissure takes shape in the errors echoing from traditional western architectural practice. It is occurring as a consequence of acting with ignorance and forgetting our general responsibility caring for our planet. It is growing fast and one cannot ignore it any more, rather it is time for examination:  It is time to reevaluate how we are engaging with our surroundings by starting to question with honesty what reality do we want to live in?

In the book Critical Care, Architecture and Urbanism for a broken planet, Angelika Fitz, Elke Krasny and Architecturezentrum Wien advocates for a shift in attitude when engaging with architecture and urban challenges. The traditional understanding of an architect is constructed by factors such as;

(1) In 30 BC author Virtuvius disconnected architecture from nature and rather tied the practice up to culture. (2) In 1485 influenced by current visions, Leon Battista Albertì’s idea of an architect as the independent master; a medium driven by forces from God, manifested itself. (3) Further, in the Age of Enlightenment, citizenship; a hierarchy within the society, gives some chosen people the privilege of power in terms of status. Wealth became judicial, a normality of politics and social practice.

Looking at places as a blank sheet where one could create new visions without acknowledgment of what already existed there, resulted in actions leading up to colonization. A division between gender, class and ethnicity that made an enormous ripple effect our society still suffer from today.

(Fitz and Krasny, 2019, co-published by Architcturzentrum and MIT Press, 2019; Introduction)

History will always be a constructed story, often made by white male persons. It is a process of selecting which kind of information to include and what to overlook. Geographer Edward W. Soja problematized how history and geography were separated under modernism. In modernism a functional object was designed for a specific client. It was beautiful in itself and often perfect until humans started to interact and use it. It's not a coincidental that the main character, Howard Roark, in the famous modern classic The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand was an architect. Architecture symbolized power and was strictly tied up to the masculine genius.

It is time to deconstruct the image of a sublime architect, to look beyond isolated disciplines and acknowledge that spaces are woven together of multiple factors. Spices, culture, flora and nature are interlinked in a life-web. And architecture is not only a part of this web, but also hold a powerful position in being part of creating this web.

Fitz and Krasny advocates for an Architectural practice which sees beyond a thing or an object itself and rather focus on what is connected through a thing. They are building their argument on political feminist theorist Joan C. Tronto’s and Bernice Fisher’s broad definition of critical care.

On the most general level, we suggest that caring be viewed as a species activity that includes everything we do to maintain, continue, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, our selves, and our environment, all of which we seek to interweave in a complex, life- sustaining web.

Berenice Fisher and Joan C. Tronto definition of care ,“Towar a Feminist Theory of Caring,” in Circles of Care: Work and Identity in Women’s Lives, eds. Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1990), 40.

In Critical Care, Architecture and Urbanism for a broken planet, Fitz and Krasny argues that one has to see beyond the demand of a client, and materialistic labels such as “green architecture” and “sustainability”. Thus, the intention behind “green architecture” and “sustainability” has good intentions and creates an awareness of the energy consumptions of a building, the labels consist of materialistic calculations and they miss the broader perspective of targeting the consequences the building has on it’s local habitat and existing correlations in surrounding cultures.  It is an urge to establish Ethics of Care in architecture practice. 

Tronto states that Our goal in defining care so broadly was in far of us to see that care is a part of almost all aspects of our life. Yet there are several ways to begin to decern where and what care is.”

Fitz and Krasny, 2019, co-published by Architcturzentrum and MIT Press, 2019; Tronto, Caring architecture, 29. 

The term Critical Care is borrowed from medical terminology, and it means to exanimate and treat illness under life-threatening conditions. The term is appropriated by feminist scholars, further elaborated into architecture and urban practice.  Providing care requires participation. Care is a condition and an activity.

(Fitz and Krasny, 2019, co-published by Architcturzentrum and MIT Press, 2019; Introduction)

Tronto structured five aspect of care to help explain the nature of care practice: Caring about, caring for, care giving, care receiving and caring with. The five aspects make it easier to understand care practice as a process of various moments of awareness.

Fitz and Krasny, 2019, co-published by Architcturzentrum and MIT Press, 2019; Tronto, Caring architecture, 30. 

Behind care lies the concept of Love. A small word with a tremendous overwhelming content. Love is utterly inclusive and optimistic, although flipping the coin pain, anxiety, and madness comes into life. Acting upon love will always include risk.

Fitz and Krasny address some key question architects should ask themselves in their architectural care practice:


  1. “what happens to people, shops, goods, communities, displacement to make room for an architectural gesture?

  2. Who will occupy the space in the future?

  3. How is the building material collected?

  4. Has it been built to last, or only built to last as long as the builder remains responsible for manufacturing defects?

  5. How might we turn our power towards caring for our broken world?

In ‘Love Stories of a Place’

I have connected this questions to one specific situation taking place in the outskirt of Jerusalem, the ancient village Lifta.

This website is built up on three main topics;

Treatment, Care and Curating.

(1) Treatment focuses on getting involved in a situation. And to dare to be affected by the uncomfortable and act upon love. What is the condition in Lifta?

(2) Care explores the five aspect of care by Tronto and Fisher. A place is political and contested by multiple conflicting interests. Who to care for in Lifta? Who will receive care? Who will give care?

(3)Curating as a way of engage with a situation as an architect. I propose an alternative way of dealing with the situation in Lifta. Breaking free from the Modernist way of thinking around architecture.

My aim is that you will strive to find your own logic and way of navigate on my website. It demands you to put effort in the process. If you find it enjoying, pleasant, or frustrating is irrelevant. The only thing that matter is that you are spending time and effort in engaging with it. Hopefully you’ll learn something about Lifta as well as the ongoing transformation of the role of an architect. My goal is to make you curious and willing to open your awareness. So in the future, you can engage with our ‘world’, ‘reality’, ‘planet’ and ‘environment’ with a new insight coming from within you.

Soja allows us to think differently about spaces. It is abstract and physical at same time, and it is not necessary bound within a time frame. We are allowed to break free from the western binary way of interpreting the world. And rather focus on processes and relationships that extends back and forward through time.

I want you to understand this webpage as a form for space of relations between what is materialized, its internal conflicts, external connections, as well as your own imagination and reflections.

`Love Stories of a Place’ is a project yarning for an architect to let go of total control, and allow room for agents to have their own truth. This shift in attitude relies on responsibility, solidarity and trust.

It introduces you to a landscape where no truth is ruling another, consisting of co-existing visions and belief systems founded in multiple cultures, feelings and memories. 

I am providing the reader with fragments of information and visualization which can be challenging to assemble. It challenges the reader to subjectively move, act and navigate in the not so easily graspable landscape. This is done intentional to give impression of the complex local situation in Lifta as well as it is points to the impossibility of grasping the whole picture.

I encourage you to follow your gut and allow yourself to openly engage honestly with the real. The real becomes a constructed idea while trying to define what its narrative. The real occurs when you are moved inside of the present- Living it.

Having said that, it’s crucial to get an overview by stepping out from the blindness of being caught in the present. It is in this break possibilities for reflections on why and how one subjectively and collectively engages with something takes place.


My work are buildt up on the philosopical concept of thirdspace described by Edward Soja. He makes his fundation of argument trough his own reflections on Lefevres and Foucault's writings and points on their limitaions.  What seems to be the over all challange is to make theoretical argumentation it into performed actions- to move from the theoretical thougth into acting diffrently from the expected in the present so the future will unfolld in a way not yet planned.

Soja’s book ‘Thirdspace, Journeys to Los Angeles and other real- and - imagined places’, forms the concept ´Thirdspace´ by elaborating examples from other scholars and writes from multiple disiplines. By using them, he tryes to extract samples of how a new understanding changes perspectives witin the constructed reality and this redefine or resituation moves established powerrelations and form how we will act and engage with our sorroundings and how we relate to it. 

The written work starts with Lefebvre's trialectics of spatiality; that spatality is a correlation between the lived, perceived and conceived, and trialectics of being, correlations between the historically, spatality and society. He asks for another way to approach and gain knowledge of the world that goes beyond firstspatial and secondspatial.1*  Soja introduces a new term ‘thirding-as-othering’,  a remembrance-rethinking-recovery of spaces lost… or never sighted at all”2* to rethink and deconstruct the duality beween mind and place.

By providing multiple samples of what Thirdspace can be he opens for a new way of engaging with spatiality that is focusing on interdependence and connectedness. He includes Bell Hooks who addresses how to rethink center and margins in the city spaces in relation to black african women. 2* 

Soja on  Lefebvre's trialectics of spatiality;
1* Firstspatiality analyses, humanspatiality continues to be defined primarily by and in its material configurations, but explanations shifts away from these surface plottings themselves to an inquiry into how they are socially produced.

Second space is entirely ideational, made up of projections to the empirical world from conceived or imagined geographies.

The knowledge of material reality is comprehended essentially through, as res cogito, literally “through things”. In second space the imagination geography tends to become the “real” geography, with the image or representation coming to define and order the reality.

( Soja, 1996, p. 77-79)

Further, he ties the lack of Lefevres trialectics to Foucault's heterotopias. The principles of heterotopology;

First: heterotopias are found in all cultures, every human group, all through they take varied forms and have no absolute universal model. It is two main categories of hetrotopia, one of “crisis” - associated with so-called primitive societies, and the other of “deviation” -spaces in which those whose behaviour is deviant from “required” norms are placed.

( Soja, 1996, p. 59)

Second: heterotopias in function and meaning over time, according to the particular “synchrony” of the culture in which they are found.

Third: the hetrotopia is capable juxtaposition in one real space several different spaces, “several sites that are in themself incompatible” or foreign to another.

Fourth: Heterotopias are typically linked to slices of time, which “for the sake for symmetry” Foucault calls hetrochronies. This inter-section and praising of space and time (third space and third time?) allows the hetrotopia “to function at full capacity” based on an ability to arrive at an “absolute break” with traditional experiences of time and temporality. “First of all, these are heterotopias of infinitely accumulating time” (...)A “place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages.”

Fifth: Heterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that simultaneously make them both isolated and penetrable, different from what is usual conceived of as more freely accessible public space.

Sixth: Heterotopias have an even more comprehensive function in relation to all the spaces that remains outside of them.

Through such forms of spatial regulation the heterotopias takes on the qualities human territoriality which is conscious subconscious surveillance of presence and absence, entierley and exit.

The boat is a place without a place, a floating piece of space that exist by itself yet is the greatest reserve of the footloose imagination: “given over to the infinity of the sea,” floating from port to port, tack to tack, brothel to brothel, “as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasure they conceal in their gardens.“ “In civilizations without boats,” Foucault concludes, “dreams dry up”, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police takes place of pirates.

( Soja, 1996, p. 162)

Soja introduces a new term ‘thirding-as-othering’, 2*Thirdspace epistemologies can now be briefly re-described as arising from the systematic deconstruction of heuristic reconstruction of the Firstspace-Secondspace duality, (mind, place) another example of what I have called thirding-as-Othering.(...) a remembrance-rethinking-recovery of spaces lost… or never sighted at all”
(Soja, 1996, p.81)

2* Soja about Hooks work on marginality and radical openness:

In choosing marginality as a place for radical openness, Hooks contributes significantly to a powerful revisioning not only of the cultural politics of difference but also of our conceptualization of human geographies, of what we mean by the politics of location and geohistorically uneven development, of how we creatively combine spatial metaphor and spatial materiality in an assertively spatial praxis.

By recontextualizing spatality, she engages in a cognitive remapping of our many real-and-imagined worlds - from the most local confines of the body, the geography closest in, to the nested geographical worlds that are repeated again and again in an expanding sequence of scales reaching from the “little tactics of the habitat” to the “great strategies” of global geopolitics.

For Hooks, the political project is to occupy the (real-and-imagined) spaces on the margins, to reclaim these lived spaces as locations of radical openness and possibility, and to make within them the sites where one´s radical subjectivity can be activated and practiced in conjunction with the radical subjectivities of others. It is thus a spality of inclusion rather than exclusion, a spatality where radical subjectivites can multiply, connect, and combine in polycentric communities of identity and resistance; where “fragmentation” is no longer a political weakness but a potential strength: the spatality searched for but never efficiently discovered in modern identity politics.

( Soja, 1996, p. 99)

Several samples of how feminist theory are dealing with spatiality in concept as colonization and borderlines is given to elaborate the concept of Thirdspace. The book is filled of samples of reading space in unconventional manners.

Soja, Edward W., Blackwell Publishing, 1996
All the best,
Maria Helena



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