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We are working in partnership with UN agencies to realise Khalil Al Khadra, a new affordable green extension to the city of Hebron that will be the largest development of its kind in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This major masterplanning project will create 50,000 much-needed new homes over 250ha on the West Bank. The first phase, Baytouna, is projected to deliver 450 new homes by 2019.
The design of Baytouna emerged following our appointment, through an international competition, by UN investment arm Shurook to advise on affordable housing development in the area. The appointment endorsed our global expertise in affordable housing and procurement, and our strong track record in managing exemplary community engagement programmes. For Shurook, we led a series of dynamic and inspiring workshops engaging local residents, construction professionals, and architecture and urban design students.
The project has won commitment at the highest levels, including from former-US Secretary of State John Kerry, who unveiled the masterplan at an event in Washington DC in December 2016.
This collaborative project sees us working with Hebron Municipality, the Mayor of Hebron, Office of the Quartet (representing the EU, US, UN and Russia), Shurook, the UNDP and UN Habitat. We have also developed and led workshops for construction professionals, sharing best practice and building local capacity. Held over five days in three cities, the workshops were attended by more than 500 people, including Sir Edward Lister, Chair of the Homes and Communities Agency and London’s former Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning.
Affordability is at the heart of the project. New housing units on the West Bank sell for an average US$120,000, which is unaffordable to 90% of the population. Through an analysis conducted with McKinsey we identified five levers to reduce housing costs by 55%, while maintaining profitability for the developer.
In Baytouna 70% of units will have a price point below US$60,000. This will be achieved in part through decreasing the floor size from 126m2 to 106m2, which we achieved through collaborating with local developers, architects and students.
The community has played a crucial role in developing the design of Baytouna from the earliest stage, through a series of workshops we ran for property professionals on the housing component, and a programme of design workshops organised for architectural students from across the West Bank.
The design workshops generated a great deal of enthusiasm in participants: “Over the past two days I have lost a lot of sleep due to the excitement,” said a student from Palestine Polytechnic University, while Dr. Abed Al-Aziz Al-Quntar, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Al-Quds University, said, “I am confident that the cooperation between the Palestinian universities, Shurook and LGA will lead to good results”.
Our engagement with the community will continue throughout the design process in order to harness the characteristics that will make Baytouna and Khalil Al Khadra unique and contextually appropriate.
With 97% of its electricity imported, power is expensive in Palestine. In the interests of reducing running costs, boosting self-sufficiency, and reducing the carbon footprint of the new district, our masterplan incorporates renewable energy technologies and passive design interventions.
An inward-looking masterplan takes into account summer solar altitude, using courtyards and narrow streets to increase shade, and orientations that promote air-flow. Public courtyards and gardens will be planted with grapevines for natural shading, and to create pleasant and peaceful surroundings.
Buildings will be well-insulated and airtight to prevent uncontrolled airflow and conductive heat gain. They will also be shallow-plan, internally openable and dual aspect to allow light breezes to effectively ventilate spaces.
Public services and stores will be located within walking distance of residential areas, minimising the need for motorised vehicles. Meanwhile, PV panels will provide electricity and buildings will be lit with LED lamps and fitted with low-flow aerated taps and showers to reduce water consumption.