• Bricks & Words #11: 'Hollow Land'

    When you hear the term ‘occupied territories’ on the news, what do you think that means? I don’t mean politically, but spatially – how does one nation control another’s territory whilst stopping short of actual war? Israeli-born architect Eyal Weizman’s astonishing book provides some of the answers.

    This is a forensic (and I use the word advisedly, since the techniques Weizman employs here have subsequently been brought to bear on war crimes investigations) dissection of the methods and technologies deployed by the Israeli government and armed forces to ensure nothing moves into, out of or to a large extent around Palestinian lands without good reason. Weizman explores every physical and electronic dimension of the situation, including but by no means limited to its architecture – though this last includes a fascinating exploration of how cladding material and style is used on new settlements to create symbolic links to a culture that is actually elsewhere. Transport, utilities, planning, security, surveillance, actual war fighting where this has happened and – it’s important to note – solutions (that expand, deliriously, into the three dimensional) to the thorny two-state problem are all looked at. This is one of the best books about the built environments people create you’ll ever read.

    ‘Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation’ by Eyal Weizman (Verso, 2007)

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Chris Rogers writer on architecture and visual culture

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