Urban and Regional Planning Unit
We are the only official party that represents Palestine in various events related to applied geophysics and seismic engineering!
In general, the Unit aims at analyzing, supervising, linking, controlling and dealing with all issues and problems pertinent to the present and future situation of local, regional and national planning in Palestine.
- To contribute to the re-planning and development of the Palestinian land through analysing, supervising, controlling and dealing with all issues and problems pertinent to the present and future situation of local, regional and national planning in Palestine.
- To provide services for the ministries, municipalities, local communities and institutions involved in planning in Palestine in terms of guidance, assistance and technical consultancies.
- To improve and support urban and regional planning practices in Palestine .
- To provide a qualified base for the support and improvement of the Palestinian planning institutions.
- To provide a qualified base for the management and control of the environmental change and spatial growth of the Palestinian settlements.
- To cooperate with Palestinian ministries, institutions and authorities to set up national standards, regulations and criteria for planning and development projects.
- To establish distinguished ties with counterpart centres abroad for the purpose of information and experience exchange, and for joint research projects.
- To coordinate the Master Program in Urban and Regional Planning at the University, which is a multi-disciplinary program.
The Unit carries out a number of activities in the field of urban and regional planning at local, regional and national levels, including:
- Preparation of development plans (master plans, detailed plans, land subdivision plans, etc.).
- Conducting and carrying out surveys, studies and research.
- Undertaking projects for ministries, municipalities, local communities and institutions involved in planning.
- Organizing specialized training courses for employees at both the public and private sectors.
- Organizing conferences, workshops and seminars.
The Unit depends upon a group of experts in the fields of planning, urban design and architecture from the academic staff at the Faculty of Engineering (particularly the Department of Architectural Engineering) to achieve its aims and carry out its activities.
Additionally, it depends on the students at the Master Program in planning to conduct the surveys and studies.
- The required infrastructure has been provided, including:
- Computer Lab with advanced hardware and software.
- Planning studio.
- Digitized aerial maps and ortho-photos.
- Library sources (books, periodicals, studies, etc.).
- Preparation of masterplans for Tulkarem, Anabta, Beita, Aqraba, Qabalan, Illar and Sida.
- Signing cooperation agreements with counterpart centers and institutions, such as:
- Institute for Town and Country Planning at Aachen University of Technology (Germany).
- The Faculty of Territorial Sciences at Polytechnic of Milan (Italy).
- Oslo School of Architecture (Norway).
Located 18 kilometers from the Old City of Nablus, and just one kilometer from An-Najah's New Campus, is the Qasr al Qassem, which houses the Urban and Regional Planning Unit.
The Qasr al Qassem was built during the early part of the eighteenth century, circa 1820, for the ruling family of the region. The palace served as both an administrative center and as a private residence. It had stables, a prison, reception rooms, as well as the private residence of the Qassem family. It was inhabited until the end of the Ottoman Empire, and fell into disrepair until 2001 when the renovation started. The renovation was conducted in cooperation with SIDA and RIWAQ, and took approximately 9 months and $250,000 USD to complete. A local contractor handled the renovation with the University’s supervision. During the renovation, they sought to maintain all original aspects of the palace, including the stairwells, windows and rooms. Even today renovation continues, as the walls are being painted.
The palace is a split level structure comprised of three stories. The three stairwell entrances off the main courtyard lead to different levels of the palace. The foremost stairwell leads to the current offices of the Urban and Regional Planning Unit, in what was a reception area. The building is made out of the white local stone, and the cement has a pink blush to it. All floors feature local tile. There are several upper courtyards that open into the private bedrooms of the palace. The rooms feature cut outs in the walls that served as shelves for the family’s personal belongings. The ceilings are domed and feature designs carved into them, including a spiral. Outside the palace is the quiet Junaid neighbourhood, an old residential area where olive trees march downhill, and the neighbouring buildings have fallen into disrepair.
Established in 1998, the Urban and Regional Planning Unit, one of An-Najah’s 16 Scientific Centers, has been instrumental in the renovation of the Qasr al Qassem. The Urban and Regional Planning Unit has hosted guests at the Qasr al Qassem from the Zajel Summer Youth Exchange Program, as well as a musician’s summer camp through cooperation with the Public Relations Department at An-Najah. CURP also hosts workshops and conferences at the palace in architecture and conservation as well as a yearly UNESCO project in restoration. The Urban and Regional Planning Unit is currently working on master plans for over twenty Palestinian cities including Nablus, Tulkarem and Jenin and will be offering training for the municipalities. In An-Najah’s Masters Program in Urban and Regional planning, which is overseen by the Unit, the students are taught the theoretical aspects of planning, the practical aspects of writing proposals, architectural drawing, and even archaeological techniques for the preservation of historic buildings. They also work to foster international cooperation with countries including Sweden, Italy and Germany for cultural heritage.