Architecture Personal Statement
“Knowledge is power”, from the moment I heard this phrase I instantly believed in this as a core truth. From the humble library located in my family’s home, I as a child knew that knowledge not only gave me the power to grow and change within myself, but it will give me the tools I need to effect change in my country as well.
The course I chose relates to my interest in architecture and Environmental issues. From my country situation, it became clear to me our need for this specialisation. During my third and fourth year while studying at Birzeit University, I conducted two social research studies about gender behavior in public spaces. The first one was in Al- Bireh old city, while the second was in the Al Jalazoune refugee camp. It became obvious to me that multiple levels of colonial and cultural implementations of male dominance existed in these public spaces.
My reaction to the results was to undertake an urban development project in the Al- Jalazoune refugee camp with colleagues. The aim was to bring the concept of open spaces to a geographically congested and enclosed community through the creation of roof gardens. These roof gardens not only were meant to create life and means of self-substance for the Palestinians living inside this camp, but it was our hope that these roof gardens would give women space for their social lives since women within this camp were mainly confined to the inner spaces of their homes.
Throughout the course of this project, we found ourselves faced with some social obstacles, and it was while dealing with these obstacles I found my skills as a leader appear. Trust of outsiders within this community is hard to achieve, the project was successful because I was able to wield the trust and communicate efficiently with my team as well as the families we worked with inside the camp.
In the last year of my education journey I worked as a volunteer in the international peace and cooperation center, my role there is to provide social and architectural surveys. it performs Architectural projects within land C areas of the west bank, where Israel strictly controls Palestinian settlement construction and development; people in these areas live in primitive houses, they also suffer from lack of resources. For them Normal life became impossible, going to school for the children there became a dream. That terror and helpless situation was able to convince me more of the power of knowledge, especially in resources management and using it efficiently, so it could be our way to live in dignity by creating suitable solutions for and problem faces.
Implementation the idea of exploiting available resources became a must in Palestine became my desire, I try to show it clearly in my graduation project during my studies at Birzeit University, it was the most obvious implementation of this. It was designing an Agro-Industrial Complex for date production in Jericho. Our choice for this project was depending on the need of the local market supporting relevant studies. While designing process Our aim appeared clearly to achieve a design more comfortable, functional and energy efficient and environmentally friendly, with the following principles: Building orientation, using Solar Panels, Recycling station for plant wastes to produce compost, Rainwater harvesting station, gray water treatment Station, and wind turbine. At the end of this project, I show my creativity, and I became optimistic toward my future to make a positive difference toward my homeland.
Living in a society fall upon occupation drive me to be in a wide range of interests. A year after graduation, I joined the “Zedni Club” in Ramallah for about four years. The events and its members were spread throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Its activities focused around organizing youth groups who read important cultural and academic texts. My role was to organize both the general and closed sessions, and we helped to plan specific subjects the group will cover for each meeting.
We brought cultural experts to explore the cultural, political, and social realities affecting our country. In the beginning, there was a very small turnout from the community, it became our aim to encourage more of the public to join us. This is where my networking skills really began to develop. In time we found that we had become successful and our ability to bring in larger numbers to the group enriched our social, political, and professional networks. Also, the group’s perspectives on society gave me new ways of functioning and maneuvering within my work environment. Also, the large variety in the opinions discussed especially in politics and religion made me more resilience and open minded.
About one year ago I and a number of engineers formed a committee to act as advocates for the engineers who are working in the private sector. We held many internal meetings and discussed the issues facing our profession under the oppression of the occupation. We seek now to make our committee formal to ensure and strengthen our voice. We believe that making our voice heard will be the first step in this long battle. That experience made me more determination of what I believe in and create a balance in my personality between flexibility and stability.
After graduation, I worked in several architectural implementations. I was a part of all the stages of the design process, from conceptual design to shop drawings and creating 3D renderings. and providing Architectural the projects by using Revit Architecture or AutoCAD as order. From Residential and commercial buildings, landscape, exterior, and interior; every design project is a challenge to me to give you something different, new, and satisfying. I do my best to turn every project into Success on the time. I also conducted social and architectural surveys in the old cities throughout the different geographical regions in the West Bank, then provide historical documentation for the project by working closely with archaeological experts. In my country the presence of designing sustainable buildings is scarce, and that makes my opportunity to make suitable experience difficult. But although I haven’t had the chance to gain work experience in these issues it is still in my future plans and my passion to gain knowledge and experience in the area.
Throughout my career as an architect, I worked closely with clients by designing a lot of residential and commercial buildings. I noticed that most of the buildings and new residential neighborhoods’ design styles are not friendly with the environment and continuously Consumption of resources. Our style of development destroyed continually the green areas. I was lost between the demands of the building pace in the market stream, and what I believed in, I merely became a tool for client’s desires and greed and found myself ineffective among these practices. that situation create contradiction in myself about what I share in and what I believe in, that contradiction besides the lack of professional experts in these areas in Palestine, In addition our local situation of resources lack due to the continued policies of the Israeli occupation were able to create that big desire to be a specialist in sustainability in architecture. Across Palestine, these specializations are not established and it is my hope to help create a shift in Architectural planning with this new knowledge. We desperately need it in architectural design, in our local market, as well as in our educational institutions to improve our architectural styles and make it more friendly with the environment. It is my goal to find new and innovative ways to build despite the restrictions of the Israeli occupation, to promote a healthier society, and take less overall energy consumption.
During my working experience. I learned as I spread knowledge that it is through this change will happen. My main goal is to utilize the knowledge I will gain from this program through two levels, the first is among the academic community through working in the university. While the second is among the local public community. The knowledge I aim to spread is how to efficiently and creatively use the environment in architectural implementations throughout the West Bank. During my work in various kinds of architectural implementations, I found a gap between theory and practice in Palestine, the university here does not teach us how to implement the knowledge we have, how to compete in the local market, or how to be entrepreneurs in our field. By being an instructor at the university it will give me the ability to bridge this gap. Personally, your program will shape my personality to be one of the leading Palestinian women in this profession in the near future.
My initial plan after getting my degree is to teach within academic institutions. Completing this program will strongly qualify me to do this. I aim to spread my knowledge through the new generations by teaching the students that architecture does not only give function and beauty to the buildings they designed but also they have to have an environmental consciousness to add to their designs. At the same time, I will initiate my independent career as an architect who is interested in environmental issues by opening my own architectural firm, to be the first female-owned specialized in designing buildings that is more eco-friendly. Having this degree will particularly raise my credibility as an architect within this industry and gain trust from the clients, also it will allow me to directly influence these projects. My future vision for my community in the long term is to establish a cultural research center whose interests are centered around local issues in sustainable design practices. This center will allow me to continue professional development in the field, through spreading knowledge by inviting academics in these fields from not only Palestine but all over the world. In addition, it will provide knowledge through holding cultural events to empower the local community by raising their awareness, as well as providing concrete examples of how the principles of sustainable design are implemented.
My time at this university will improve my abilities to be innovative and creative, it will also improve my ability to be critical of local practices in a helpful manner. My connections with alumni, architects, and whoever interested in environmental issues. Will widen due to this program. Creating local and international academic and professional networks for the future of my country. Also, it will keep me engaged in academic approaches and will reveal my future purposes of completing my doctoral studies. This advanced degree will also provide the credibility I need to demonstrate Palestinian women's ability to compete in leading roles in society in the field of construction.
I believe that by having a degree specialized in environmental issues will give me the power and the needed knowledge to make a change, to make our architectural designs friendly with the environment. As well as innovative due to our lack of resources and political pressures. It will also allow me to bring this new knowledge to our academic institutions, as well as my own architectural firm. Personally, your program will shape my personality to be one of the leading Palestinian women in this profession in the near future.