In a consortium with Birzeit University, Campus in Camps has been collaborating with professor Yazid Yelrifai and architecture students in a course of “Advanced Design”. As part of the course, students chose to work on a project of the Youth Center in Dheisheh.
Soon after Dheisheh was established, people began gathering in the streets and other open spaces in order to commune over the status of the camp, politics, and social conditions. In doing so they created a forum which housed a strong collective voice that would speak on all kinds of issues from the perspective of its participants. Soon it became clear that the residents needed to establish a space suited for their conversations and gatherings.
This desire for a space coincided with the creation of the Youth Center in Dheisheh, which the residents asked UNRWA to build for sports and social activities. In 1969 the center was constructed and quickly turned into the forum people had been looking for. When the Israeli army noticed the role the center was playing they tried to close it three different times by military order, but the people re-opened it each time. The center maintained a role in the camp until 1987, when at the beginning of the first Intifada it was permanently closed and the active youth of the camp imprisoned.
After the center was closed, its activities moved back to the houses and streets of the camp, showing that the center was not merely a space but something more, “[…] the collective mind and community participation that united the people. It is still considered a common place in idea and practice. (Collective Dictionary: The Unbuilt)
The projects by Birzeit students envision a reconstruction of the Youth Center in Dheisheh in order to recreate and revive the forum of the common in the camp. The projects concluded with the public presentation of the student’s projects at Al-Feniq Centre in Dheisheh Camp, which took the form of a common seminar with participants of Campus in Camps and members of the community.