1.1 Problem definition
The Dead Sea has always had a politically charged status. Located between what are now 3 different political bodies (Palestine, Jordan, and Israel)-but only Jordan and Israel share the land rights. The Dead Sea has been used as a mean of governmental manipulation and has been subjected to resources exploitations . In particular, the exploitation of the Sea`s water has resulted in dramatic 40m level drop in the last 70 years (Amit, 2016).A newly signed agreement -which was agreed upon by the three parties- has been laid out in order to construct a canal connecting the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. The 10 million dollar canal would provide less than 10% of the required water in order to save the Sea from drying by 2050 (Deutsche Welle, 2017).The numbers raise the question of whether the canal is an attempt of saving the Dead sea or is it mere a political publicity stunt. Moreover, it primarily raises the question of which is the everlasting element, the border or the Sea?
1.2 Project Definition
The project is derived from the site –The Dead Sea – and explores two main ideas. It first questions the role of architecture in the geo-political tension of the disputed territory. On the other hand, it focuses on the narrative of the Dead Sea through highlighting its natural resources along with its cultural significance. Providing a Museum for the Dead Sea, which would penetrate the borders, would help in the community building of the area, it would also create a great attraction spot for tourist and locals where they would be provided with information about the site while enjoying the uniqueness of its landscape.
1.3 Project Objectives
The projects aims at re-thinking the border conditions of the Dead Sea by creating a penetrable, porous, and floating monument of the Sea. Furthermore, the project chooses to reflect the declining natural resources of the Sea by representing it as a narrative, a decaying moment with the Sea before it dries away , and by not proposing new landscape rather using the Sea`s own resources in creating the monument.
1.4 Role of Architecture
? Highlighting the Dead Sea over the disputed borders.
? Presenting the collective symbolism and monumentality of the Dead Sea.
? Utilizing the Sea`s existing landscape and cultural memory in creating a journey.
? Experimenting with the Sea`s natural resources as building materials.
1.5 Methodological framework
To achieve the desired objectives of the project, and seeing that the proposed project is site driven, a qualitative analysis had to be done on the Dead Sea in order to identify its present circumstances and the potential opportunities it can provide. Since the topic of the project has a dual identity, one of political dispute while the second tackles the nature of the Dead Sea and its deteriorating resources. The review of Literature will focus on the disputed nature of the Dead Sea by examining the political situation and the politics` reflection on the status of the Sea .In the end, the literature review will discuss the proposed function of the project- a museum- as a political response.
The performed literature review and data analysis will provide an assessment of the existing situation, and it will be followed by a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis that would be able to provide the aspects which the project can choose to develop or choose to highlight thus creating a strong basis for the future project program development.
In order to have a strong basis for the project and to provide a better understanding of the project`s potential status and uses, a number of case studies will be thoroughly analyzed.
After providing the theoretical framework, a site selection process would be performed to determine a specific site, afterwards, the project`s program will be developed taking in consideration the literature review and SWOT analysis results.The end result of the Introduction to graduation project (ENAR520) would be in developing the conceptual structure and sketches of the project in preparation for the design process which will be followed in the graduation project course (ENAR 530).
Review of Literature
This review of literature will focus on portraying the disputed territory of the Dead Sea and the possibilities of a museum as a political response. Firstly a discussion of the political dispute which is most reflected in the water status will be presented followed by a theoretical background on political power, borders, and the politics of museums.
2.1 Politics of the Dead Sea
Israel and Jordan share the land rights over the Dead Sea, where the two countries are benefiting considerably from the Dead Sea`s mineral qualities. The Jordanian shore has 5 hotels whereas Israel has 15.Also, both states have developed industries that contribute to additional values, exports, and job opportunities.
For the Palestinians, the area around the Dead Sea is classified as an area C and is off limits for the Palestinians. Furthermore, Israel has taken control of 77 % of it and has prevented Palestinians from building on or using the land or remaining there and 10% of the area has been allocated for settlements, including the entire northern shore of the Dead Sea (B`tselem,2012). Under the Oslo accords, Israel retained control of most of the water resources in the area (80%) while keeping only 20% to the Palestinians (Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Department ,2013)since then, Israel has moved from the idea that water is a shared commodity and instead took control of allocating water to the Palestinians.
2.2 The fight over Water
As water is considered a precious commodity in the Middle East, the Dead Sea water has been a political matter and a matter of fight for its bordering states-Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. The Sea is considered the deepest hypersaline lake in the world (298m deep) and has the lowest elevation valley (-430m). The Jordan River-which runs from the north along the border between Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank-used to be the main source of water for the Dead Sea. With 90% of the river’s water being diverted, the sea`s water evaporation pools used for salt extraction-concentrated in the south near Ein Jedi, and the high temperature the area faces, the Dead Sea has reached its lowest surface area of 605km2(World Bank,2011) .To find a problem for the water solution, Israel, Jordan and the World Bank are investing in a $10 billion pipeline (Deutsche Welle, 2017).
2.3 Pipe Dream: The Dead Sea-Red Sea Canal
Zionist leaders have had a love affair with using a pipeline or canal to connect the Dead Sea to a sea for more than 150 years. A 2002 proposal, known as the “Red Sea -Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project” was first laid out. In July 2017, the plan for the canal was approved and a pipeline of 227 kilometer that connects the Aqaba desalination plant to the Dead Sea is expected to be completed within 10 years After the water passes the hydroelectric power plants along the line, some of the water would pour into the Dead Sea and the rest would be channeled via a desalination plant to different regions in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine (Deutsche Welle, 2017).
2.4 The propaganda of a “Peace Canal”
Some people would argue that the Canal project is merely a publicity stunt as it is promoted as the biggest agreement between Israel and Jordan since the 1994 peace accord. “Water can serve as means for reconciliation, prosperity, cooperation rather than calls for tensions and dispute” (Hanegbi, 2017).While the expensive project would foster cooperation between Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis, it would not be able to solve the water decline crisis. While the canal is set to flow 80-100 m3 per year into the Dead Sea, the sea actually requires 800m3 per year in order not to be dried up by 2050(Deutsche Welle, 2017).Moreover, the project could harm the Dead Sea environment due to the different nature of the two seas, environmentalists are fearing that the different water types will produce large amount of gypsum which would spoil the ecosystem of the Dead Sea (World Bank, 2011).
The pipeline agreement`s significance goes beyond the water, for the disputed territory, this collaboration between the three parties is hoped to bring peace. This peace is alluded. For the Palestinians , as for the land rights, having no control over water resources means that Israel will be selling 32 m3 to Palestinians, where 10 would go to Gaza and the rest to the West Bank(Deutsche Welle, 2017).
As the proposed Canal project revels itself as being a political propaganda which is shaped by and plays around the borders. While neglecting the Dead Sea`s critical status. This requires rethinking of the borders and suggesting tools which would give hierarchy to the Sea over the borders.
2.5 Utilizing the Borders
Borders have traditionally become the core of power discussions. Foucault (as cited by Walters, 2015) argues how borders gain conceptual power when they are discussed for their influence on spatiality of movement and exclusion. On the other hand, Mezzadra and Neilson (as cited by Walters, 2015) provided the rejection to common conceptions that borders only separate and divide. Borders have the ability to include, connect, and exercise power in their location thus turning into a standpoint for grasping transformations between states and people.
2.6 Penetrating the Borders: Museum as a political tool
Museums have been seen up until recently as preservers of artifacts. However, in the last decade, museums started earning recognition for their political power along with the social and moral effects they hold (Luke, 2002).By applying Michael Foucault’s theory of governmentality-which refers to the way the government exercises power, or governs, the state`s citizens (as cited in Wilson, 2010)- over on the emergence of Museums, it can be understood that museums were introduced in the eighteenth century along with the political development highlighted by Foucault. The origin of museums in the political system was a mean of installing the ‘correct’ values and social control. In this way, the museum`s power was realized as being a tool of crowds transformation into self-regulated and ordered citizens.
Within the modern public museum, the origin of museums in this organization of reforming and ordering the society is still evident. Foucault set out the genealogy of the modern liberal state in which the government influences all aspects of a society, from controlling the broad political and economic processes to restating the identities, habits, and thoughts of the population (as cited in Wilson, 2010). In order to achieve this system of control, the government is not only conducted through the political agencies, but also through its social institutions of different community oriented associations and spaces which help the government in making the people ‘govern themselves’ in the modern liberal state.
In this manner, the museum`s significance raises as an institution that legitimizes knowledge. Museums provide a mechanism for affirming key cultural and social understanding, which through it can install the ‘correct’ values and thoughts within the society. Furthermore, museums are “highly political agencies which become engaged in authoritatively allocating scarce cultural values by helping to define who means what to whom, where, when, and how”(Luke,2002).Through their power of shaping and reaffirming collective values , “museums are frontline emplacements for competing classes, groups or regions”, making them battle fields in modern wars of cultural position.
1.1 Problem definition