Keren Kuenberg

Checkpoint Battir: from a barrier to a station

"On the Road to Wandering" 3rd year design studio 2012
Lecturer: Arch. Nilly R. Harag | Assistants: Arch. Liat Eisen, Michaela Landman. The studio was made in a collaboration with ENSA Paris-Malaquais

I choose to focus on the mandatory railway path to Jerusalem. The path goes from Jaffa to Jerusalem through many stations that are not in use, most of them from 1948. I was interested in the stations that are no longer in use but you still pass through them.
The road experience is a continuous moving capsule. In which you cut the space only visually. Battir station interested me since I started to read about the railway, during the Journey I searched to find its location. My road was different from other passengers on that train.

Battir is a Palestinian village southwest of Jerusalem defined. The village is preserved as an ancient agricultural landscape, incorporating extensive stone-walled terraces and a unique natural irrigation system from the Roman-era, which is still in use today. Due to the unique living cultural and historical landscape Battir's terraces are expected to soon be declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, in the coming months. I was drawn into Battir not only because of its ancient landscape but also because of its intense complexity. The green line crosses through the village, separating it from most of its agricultural lands. The armistice agreements signed in 1949 allowed only the villagers of Battir to continue on working the land at the Israel side as long as they kept the railroad safe. This agreement was kept until recently, when Israel started to build the Separation Wall on the terrace landscape. Nowadays the Israeli Supreme Court discusses that issue.

The project suggests an alternative concept of security, using the terms of the ‘base structure’ to gain better results and a long term solution. The structure redefines the area, creating a new understanding of the space. Instead of using Battir as a place of separation, the project aspires to reinstate the village as a worthy stopping station on the way to Jerusalem.

[exhibition, design]