Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Program

Our Programs

Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Program

The project invests in building long-term cultural resilience by preserving material centers of history and by allowing Palestinians to stay in their homes (SDG 9). OCJRP makes communities more sustainable by improving the quality of life of beneficiaries and by giving them quality spaces that can support community engagement (SDG 11).

Cultural heritage in Palestine, like all aspects of Palestinian existence, has been and still is under the threat of erasure by the occupation. This is exacerbated in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the existence of Palestinians and their deep rooted cultural practices and manifestations are threated daily (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in danger- 1982). We believe that we have a responsibility to counter that.

We established the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Program (OCJRP) in 1994 to support Jerusalem’s much-neglected Old City. In 2006, we expanded OCJRP’s scope to include Nablus.

OCJRP aims to:

  • Protect the historic architectural heritage and historic fabric of Palestinian cities.
  • Contribute to the social and economic advancement of our communities and the protection of their environment through the protection and betterment of the built cultural heritage.
  • Build the capacity of professionals and workers in the field of conservation.
  • Provide reliable data for researchers on the cultural heritage of Palestinian Cities.
  • Encourage community participation in the revitalization process.

OCJRP consists of and is supported by an interdisciplinary team of urban planners, architects, engineers and historians. Its main work components include:

  • Preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings in the old cities of Jerusalem and Nablus.
  • Documenting architectural attributes of historic buildings.
  • Training architects, craftsmen, and contractors on traditional architecture preservation techniques.
  • Conducting community awareness activities on the importance of preserving the architectural heritage.

 

Through the rehabilitation of historic buildings for institutional and residential use, OCJRP creates jobs and enhances the livelihoods of these buildings’ users. It also engages community members around the preservation of their city’s heritage, strengthening their identity in the process.

 

2016 Achievements

Restoring of Historical Buildings and Infrastructure

  •   Provided shelter and improved the living conditions for 54 families in Jerusalem and Nablus.
  •   Restored 10 buildings which serve 400 users and around 1,630 residents of the old city of Jerusalem, Nablus and Arraba.

Capacity Building Training

  •  Implemented 7 training courses in the fields of preserving architectural heritage, conservation of historic buildings, and public safety, for 100 engineers and specialists.
  •  Held two workshops about the construction and restoration sector in Jerusalem, and coordination among ecosystem players.

Community Awareness

  • Partnered with a grassroots association (Massar Cultural Center) in Jerusalem and organized a summer camp for 51 young people (ages 9-15) called “Homeland is my tale.” The camp’s concept was to spread cultural and historical awareness to children through plays, stories, tours, and models.
  • Partnered with the Palestine Writing Workshop in a program to produce 5 children’s stories and to work with mothers in historic centers to train them in reading out loud to their children.

Research and Documentation

  •  Continued to build a comprehensive database of historical sites in the of cities of Palestine.
  •  Published a book, entitled Al-Madrasah Al-Sallamiya: History and Restoration, about the history and restoration methods of a Mamluk building in the Old City of Jerusalem.
  •  Finalized two research projects, in preparation for publication, on “The Jewish and Moroccan Quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem,” and “Archeological sites and Historic Building in Nablus.”
  •  Finalized a comprehensive survey of the physical conditions of 300 housing units in the Old City of Jerusalem, and published the report.

 

OCJRP achievements throughout the last 20 Years:

Restoration

  •  Restored 820 family houses inside historic cities.
  •  Rehabilitated 72 buildings for use by community-based organizations, which now serve a constituency of more than 100,000 individuals.

Job creation

  • Provided 275,000 working days for local workers and generated income of around 47 million USD from restoration works.

Capacity building and awareness

  • conducted around 105 community activities with more than 1,500 participants.
  • Provided on-the-job training for 55 local professionals.
  • Hosted 60 training courses that will serve over 500 courses participants

Research and documentation

  • Created two databases of historical sites.
  • Completed two master plans for the Old City of Jerusalem and Nablus city.
  • Produced 16 publications and audiovisual materials.

Testimonies

“I was not able to live in the house because it lacked basic necessities. I was always staying with my family and only returned to pay the bills. Now, I have returned to my house that I was married in decades before, and it is more beautiful than before, thanks to Taawon.” Aisha A-Shweiki – Jerusalem  
Rehabilitating the Old City of Jerusalem
"I grew up here. This has been the Abu Qutaish family house for more than 160 years. The house’s condition deteriorated over the years and we had no way of baring its renovation costs. With your help three families now live in it. You saved the house, and more importantly, reunited me with my children and grandchildren under one roof.” 
The Head of the Abu Qutaish Family, Jerusalem