Adapting Modernity: Designing with Modern Architecture in East Jerusalem, 1948–1967

Samman, Maha
Saifi, Yara
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Oxford University Press on behalf of The Design History Society
This study examines the influence of modernity on residential buildings as a new form of expansion built during the Jordanian Rule (1948–1967) outside the Old City of East Jerusalem. Through investigating a sample of houses, the study shows how building typologies, layouts and architectural characteristics depict and inform reinterpretations and adaptations of modernity. Unlike the modernity that emerged out of the western locus, these buildings do not ignore their vernacular roots but adapt to the Palestinian socio-cultural lifestyle, and at the same time borrow from the aesthetic and ideological characteristics of the modern idiom. Based on architectural documentation and ethnographic research, the analyses show that the peasants (Fallahin) made an important contribution to the adaptive modernity of residential buildings in East Jerusalem. The designs were influenced by some aspects of modernity but were also subject to local and cultural determinants. The study contributes to the literature on ‘other modernities’ outside the west, and to an architectural history that is informed by people’s private and individual experience rather than by those working in the profession. This is considered to be a neglected heritage that this article aims to redress.
East Jerusalem—Jordanian Rule , modern architecture , peasants , vernacular architecture