Holistic rehab–not only physical, but social, cultural, and economic–is Riwaq’s ambitious goal for the historic area of Birzeit. Given how much Palestinian heritage is already lost, the conservation association holds that protecting individual buildings is not enough.
Instead, Riwaq is conducting the ongoing restoration of a whole district of the multicultural university town, including 50 buildings, 14 courtyards, and numerous architectural sites and olive terraces.
Funded by SIDA, the process started with upgrading infrastructure such as electricity, phone, and sewer lines. But that was only step one: the next and more difficult phase involves giving local residents, landowners, and institutions a stake in cultural preservation by establishing sustainable long-term tourist and cultural activities.
The “before” and “after” photos speak for themselves. Where junk and rubble once filled a disused courtyard, cleanly joined walls and a smart stone planter display abiding pride of place.
For more info – http://www.riwaq.org/2010/index.php