Love Stories of a Place

Bergen School of Architecture︎Thank you


Forms of treatment

- I am affected

Marinas Gracès is providing us with the concept of `Honesty with the real`. She adds honestly into the discussion of reality.

The questions usually raised by the modern west about reality have been: (1) How to think about it? (2) How to transform it? 

Two question concerned with forms of representation and forms of interventions, by including honestly the forms of treatment become equally important.   

Treatment is a way of being, of perceiving, of sustain, or having something in hand, or situating oneself. (…) It is not the action of a subject on an object, measurable based on a cause and some effects, that is at stake. (…) Dealing honestly with the real would, be, then, invoking this oblivion in order to combat power. (...) this involves ceasing to make of the world a battlefield in which we ourselves, our identity and our certainties will end up being the first affected
. (Gracès, 2012,p.2) *

 Gracès reasoning is sharp and connected to how to engage with the constructed society. Every society is constantly suppressing and denying parts of what exists within it.

She argues that honestly is always violence as one must yearn for truth, us, and the world, and to let oneself be affected by the circumstances. Allow for forces to run through your body and consciousness.

Honestly is always exercises violent towards the real because it earns entering the stage. To allow yourself to be affected might counter to one`s own interest. (Gracès, 2012)

To deal Honestly with the real can be connected to Judith Butler theory of the constructed nature and performative roles. We, as living breathing beings on this earth, are actors and improvisation of the plot at the same time.

Our world is constructed by our acts and we are playing out as we believe we are expected to do, but if we take a step back or travel to other cultures, which Butler uses as a sample, we will have a different understanding of what is natural and we can chose to act differently and with time the gesture of acting differently can change the dominant perception of the normality. (Butler,1988) *

* Fragments of text from my Social Science Essay

Critical Care

- Our planet is suffering 

Before treatment can take place, one has to target the illness.

In medical terms, critical care is a specialized branch of medicine dedicated to diagnosing and treating life- threatening conditions.

This includes comprehensive life support to those who are critically ill. We (Fitz and Krasny) borrowed this term to speak about our planet’s life-threatening conditions. The planet has made headline through the twenty-first century. And the news is not good. The diagnosis is bleak: the planet we live on and we live with is exhausted, drained, depleted, damaged, broken. In short, the condition is such that the planet is in urgent need of critical care. We(Fitz and Krasny) use this lens of critical care to rethink the relationship of architecture and urbanism to the planet in the twenty-first century. (Fitz and Krasny, 2019, Co-published by Architecturzentrum Wien and The MIT press; Critical Care. Architecture and Uranism for a Broken Planet, p. 10) 

How to treat a broken planet?

- A new way of seeing the relationships social environment, natural environment and the built environment - friendlier to life forms

An architecture of care:

An architecture that fulfils the basic tasks of sharing responsible for caring for our world, an architecture that is sensitive to the values of repair, of preservation, of maintaining all forms of life and the planet itself. 

(Fitz and Krasny, 2019, Co-published by Architecturzentrum Wien and The MIT press; Caring Architecture, Tronto, p 31)

Lifta village is surrounded by agricultural land. The build structures are intertwining with the surrounding landscape. Built structure can be difficult to spot from distance and areal photographies because houses and structures are partly excavated into the topography. And are built of lime stone bricks made of soil of the place. 

Situation map Lifta;
Illustration by M.H.K.N

1. Lime stone colum and arch;
Illustration by M.H.K.N

The village is structured around
dwelling units combined with industrial houses. The Crusades settled and began olive oil production. For centuries, Olive trees and fresh was associated with the village.

As the village expanded with times into a complex cluster structure with many alleys, common square and roofs. 

Growing body
Characters of Lifta

Today the houses are abandoned. Most of olive tree fields are cleaned land. The new habitants of the village are the fauna, insects and animals.

Wild flowers, green leaf, cactus, poppy and other spices from the flora grows freely around the houses, on top of the roofs, and in-between the sandstone bricks. 

The relations between the magnifical wild nature, the mystical spaces created inside and outside of the lime stone structure assembled of many small elements into one endless structure.

The fascination of precision and technologies in construction. Every stone brick is unique and as its own place in the brick wall or curved ceilings.  

2. Lime stone colum and arch;
Illustration by M.H.K.N


- A contested place

What we care about determine what kind of society we are.
(Fitz and Krasny, 2019, Co-published by Architecturzentrum Wien and The MIT press; Caring Architecture, Tronto, p 28)

Political will and Power

-needs that needs to be adressed

One of the ways neoliberal spaces organize themselves it sto seperate people by class so that more wealthy people rearely encounter their poor neighboorhoods and their needs.(Fitz and Krasny, 2019, Co-published by Architecturzentrum Wien and The MIT press; Caring Architecture, Tronto, p 30)

Lifta is important for a wide specter of comunities and beings. Its historical growing body have evolved trough time and its landscape and nature have attracted people with various intrest and belif systems. 

Lifta Village;
Photo by Helene Isabelle Millan Eide, 2019

Lifta’s postition in relation to the Old City, Jeruslaem;
Illustration by M.H.K.N

On Lifta

Lifta is an ancient village located in the outskirts of Jerusalem. A palace seemingly left alone. A place of stillness, still full of historical and religious value and political tension. The site has a pond, vegetation, and stone constructions that were once inhabited. The building complexes in pale limestone are storytellers in themselves.

Due to its strategic position on the road between Jaffa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Lifta has been an important and inhabited by multiple cultural groups of people, crusades, nomadic tribes, Arabs, refugees from Kurdistan, Jews and more. It traces back to the tie of crusades, in newer history it was known as an Arabic village.

The Old City’s possition in Israel/Plaesitine with its sourrounding borders;
Illustration by M.H.K.N

The state of Israel was born and claimed the land. The people who already lived there had to leave their homes. Of 400 houses around 55 remains. From 2017 they all were left alone; the function is removed as walls and roofs are penetrated by bullet holes.

Houses in Lifta in 1947 and in 2008
Illustration from article

Photo by Helene Isabelle Millan Eide, 2019

Lifta Village;
Photo by Helene Isabelle Millan Eide, 2019

Lifta Terrain Section;
Illustration by M.H.K.N

The village is located in a slope valley and is surrounded by rich agricultural land. The remains of the village are strikingly beautiful with its limestone building complex with impressive arches and internal infrastructure. It is an ongoing work on getting it on the UNECO heritage list. That may be one of the reasons why it has been left untouched for such a long time.

However, in the 80s a masterplan for the area was made. An archeological survey was done, concluding that the heritage value of the village is remarkable, and the master plan suggests transforming the area into an urban park open for all, to preserve the remains of the village and add public functions such as exhibition spaces, a lecture hall and a cafeteria.


In 2004 the masterplan got a new character as a new proposal suggested to use the area to build dense residentials. The archeological and historical character of the place is now preserved for its tourism value. The new plan includes high middle-class housings, luxurious hotels, public programs such as synagogues.


Both Jews and Arabs have reacted to the new proposal, and NGOs and activist groups were established. They are fighting against privatization of the area and they would like the municipality of Jerusalem to go back to the proposal of an agricultural urban park.

There are two main concerns regarding the new proposal. First, the valley is very steep with natural and man-made terraces. To be able to build dense housing one would have to do massive construction in the land which would change the appearance of the existing. Secondly, there is a difference between ‘public space’ defined by private developers and common land use.


In the new plan the voice of the Arabs is not included, and important factors on the site such as an Arabic cemetery is not mentioned in the survey or in the plan, where new housing is planned on top of the cemetery.

Many of the refugees who had to leave their home only moved a few kilometers away to East Jerusalem, and they still feel an immense attachment to their homes.

The site itself is hosting a complexity of cultural and historical perspectives. I chose this site because of its rare beauty, its many layers of civilizations, and the ongoing debate about its future. It’s spatial, geographical, historical, and political importance is striking.

*Text fragmentation from Social Sience Essay:
© Copyright Maria Helena K. Nerhus 2020
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