A Civilian Occupation

An investigation by architects Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman on the politics of Israeli architecture


Fields of Knowledge
  • Design
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions



Eduardo Cadava, Aaron Levy

Process initiated


Opens to public



4017 Walnut
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to present a public lecture by architects Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman, with discussion to follow. Censored in 2003 by the Association of Israeli Architects, their book A Civilian Occupation (Verso, 2003) is the first attempt to highlight the role of Israeli architecture in the Middle East conflict. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the declared aim of the Zionist movement has been to build a national home for the Jewish people in Israel. From the settlement offensive of the Tower and Stockade villages in the 1930s, through the total planning of the state of Israel after its independence, to the occupied territories from 1967 to the present, this book reveals how central Israeli architecture has been in securing that aim.

"Both the exhibition and the catalog were conceived as an investigation of Israeli architecture by Israeli architects, scholars, photographers and journalists, and were meant to supplement the prevalent historical and political analysis of the conflict with a detailed description of its physical transformations. They were to be presented before an international gathering of architects and intended to highlight the fact that, because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a clear spatial dimension, architects and planners play an important, albeit little discussed, role in its unfolding. Architecture was presented as a political issue, and furthermore as the material product of politics itself." --Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman, from the Introduction to A Civilian Occupation

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Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal established their architectural practice in Tel Aviv in 2000 after working together with Zvi Hecker. Their office attempts to integrate architectural projects with research and writing. Amongst their recent works are the re-design of the Ashdod Museum of Art, a set design for "Electra," and the exhibition and publication A Civilian Occupation (2003).

Rafi Segal worked together with Zvi Hecker on the design of the Palmach History Museum built in Tel-Aviv. Eyal Weizman is developing his Politics of Verticality project into a book and a film. His previous books are Yellow Rhythms (2000) and Random Walk (1998). Segal and Weizman are contributors to Cities Without Citizens, a joint publication of Slought and the Rosenbach Museum, edited by Aaron Levy and Eduardo Cadava.

"The questions posed by A Civilian Occupation... should be considered in a much broader context: How many architects would have declined the opportunity offered to architect Thomas Leitersdorf to design the city of his dreams? [...] Is the architect really just an innocent professional or must he choose between obedient collaboration and militant action? And finally, what is the role of politics within architecture and what is the role of architecture within politics? In these senses, the local debate initiated by Weizman and Segal should help generate new thinking on architecture, urbanism and politics. The politics of Israeli architecture is the politics of any architecture."

--Sharon Rotbard

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Scholars Eduardo Cadava and Aaron Levy join archival materials from the Rosenbach Museum with essays by Giorgio Agamben, Eyal Weizman and others in order to raise questions about citizenship, human rights, and the architecture of cities.

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