Housing Others: Design and Identity in a Bedouin Village | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2045-5895
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5909


In the 1960s, the Israeli government decided to build towns for the Bedouin population of the Negev, a desert area in the southern part of Israel. These towns have often been interpreted as the outcome of an ill-intentioned history of colonization and expropriation. This article offers a different account of the Negev towns, by examining the first plan for a Bedouin settlement commissioned by the government in 1960 that was never built. The outcome of a collaboration between an Israeli Palestinian architect and a Jewish dilettante, the plan aimed at preserving what the two imagined to be a Bedouin identity at risk of being lost through the process of modernization. It thus modified modernist design principles so they would rehabilitate that identity. This article examines the conception and the reception of the plan. It argues that for the architects, the challenge of housing the Negev Bedouin was not a matter of expropriation, nor was it necessarily about accounting for the actual needs of the Bedouin; rather, the architects saw the commission as an opportunity to develop a counter-voice to high-modernism and to the state’s project of blanket modernization.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): architecture; Bedouin; housing; identity; modernisms; Negev
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