The Work of Riwaq: Reclaiming Space in Architectural Rehabilitation of Palestinian Villages

Presented by

Dr. Suad Amiry, Architect and Founder of Riwaq

Shatha Safi, Architect and Director of Riwaq

Michel Salameh, Senior Architect and Restorer, Riwaq


  •  A light snack is served at 12:30 p.m. Talk begins promptly at 1:00 p.m.

Founded in 1991, RIWAQ focuses on preserving Palestinian collective memory through projects that document and restore architectural heritage sites across the West Bank and Gaza. Harnessing the energy and skills of students, architects, archaeologists, and historians, RIWAQ launched the Registry of Historic Buildings, a thirteen year project (1994-2007) resulting in the publication of three volumes that include detailed histories, maps, and photos of approximately 420 villages in sixteen districts across the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Riwaq is distinguished by its focus on rural areas in Palestine and job creation. Since 2001, its “Job Creation through Restoration Projects” proved that restoration work can lead to a sustainable increase in awareness of the importance of cultural heritage, and a higher standard of living of a large segment of the population.

Because of the huge demand for these services, as well as the scarcity of human and financial resources, Riwaq implemented “The 50-Village Rehabilitation Project” as a culmination of a long period of work and experimentation in rehabilitating and safeguarding heritage in Palestine as a tool for socio-economic and political development.

Riwaq’s projects are not only about job creation, or the restoration of stones and historic structures, but also about raising awareness about cultural heritage as a pillar for Palestinian identity and collective memory, and the importance of disseminating knowledge.


Biography of Speakers

Suad Amiry is a conservation architect and writer. She is the founder of RIWAQ: Centre of Architectural Conservation, Ramallah, Palestine. Amiry and her Organization RIWAQ received several international architectural awards, among them the prestigious “Aga Khan Award for Architecture” in 2013. She taught architecture in the Department of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning of Columbia University, at University of Jordan, and at Birzeit University. Amiry is the author of several books on architecture, the latest of which is Peasant Architecture in Palestine: Space, Kinship and Gender (2018). Her non-fiction books include acclaimed memoir Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, which received Italy’s renowned literary award, Via Reggio (2004), Menopausal Palestine (2010), Nothing to Lose But Your Life: an 18-hour Journey with Murad (2010), and Golda Slept Here (2013). Amiry’s latest book My Damascus appeared in Italian English, and Maltese, and will be translated and published in Arabic early 2019. She also appeared on TEDxRamallah, where she delivered the talk, “My Work My Hobby”.

Shatha Safi is an architect currently working as Co-Director of Riwaq, which she joined in 2008. She received a B.Sc. in architectural engineering from Birzeit University and an MA in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development from ITILO, Turin, Italy. Safi has directed and worked on different projects including the rehabilitation project of Beit Iksa, Hajjah, Birzeit, and Qalandiya. She is interested in cultural landscape and community involvement, and worked as a facilitator and trainer in topics related to heritage and community mobilization. 

Michel Salameh has been working as an architect restorer at RIWAQ since 2008. He is currently responsible for coordinating and implementing rehabilitation projects as part of the “50 Villages Project”, in addition to upper architectural supervision of conservation projects. Salameh has a B.Sc. in Architectural Engineering from Birzeit University (2005). In 2011, he joined the 17th International Course on Stone Conservation (SC11) that took place in Rome. In 2018, he finished his M.Sc. of Science in Conservation of Decorative Architectural Surfaces from the University of Malta. Salameh has worked in private engineering offices and as a freelance interior designer. He is interested in design, conservation materials and quality control.


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