Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti

Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti are architects, artists, and educators, whose work combines critical and rigorous theoretical research with an architectural, artistic, and pedagogical practice engaged in the struggle for justice and equality.  

In 2012, Hilal and Petti founded “Campus in Camps” as a means to address the numerous needed spatial and social interventions in Palestinian refugee camps. “Campus in Camps” is an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem that uses collective discussions and courses to transform the notions of “space” and “agency” into practical, community-driven, interventions. These practice based interventions aim to overcome conventional educational structures by creating a space for critical and grounded knowledge production connected to greater transformations and the democratization of society( www.campusincamps.ps ).  

In 2007, with Eyal Weizman, Hilal and Petti co-founded the Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR) in Beit Sahour, Palestine, an architectural studio and residency program that has gathered together architects, artists, activists, urbanists, film-makers, and curators— to work collectively on the subjects of politics and architecture. DAAR explores possibilities for the reuse, subversion and profanation of actual structures of domination: from evacuated military bases to the transformation of refugee camps, from uncompleted governmental structures to the remains of destroyed villages (www.decolonizing.ps ). In 2014 they published Architecture After Revolution a text inviting to rethink today’s struggles for justice and equality not only from the historical perspective of revolution, but also from that of a continued struggle for decolonization.  

In Hilal and Petti’s practice, contemporary art exhibitions are at the same time a site of display, material production, research, and political imagination. The participation in various international exhibitions, among them the Biennale di Venezia (2003-2008-2009-2013-2015), Bozar Brussels (2008), Istanbul Biennial (2009), Home Works Beirut V (2010), Red Cat Los Angeles (2010), Nottingham Contemporary (2012), Bienal de São Paulo (2014), and the Asian Art Biennial (2015), aimed to investigate and act upon the formation of different social, political, and spatial relation between people, state and territory beyond the liberal notion of citizenship. The practical implications of these conceptual and artistic interventions have been tested more concretely with architectural interventions in refugee camps. In 2014 the Shu’fat School for Girls was inaugurated for 1,000 students, teachers and local organizations as an expression of dignity and strength of the refugee community living in overcrowded refugee camps. Further, in 2015 these practices led to the construction of a “Concrete Tent” in the garden of the Al Finiq Cultural Center in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, a pavilion that embodies the contradiction of the permanent temporariness of Palestinian refugees and a “public square” in Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron, built as a house without a roof embodies the ambiguity and potentiality between public and private space within the camps.  

Alessandro Petti holds a Ph.D. in Urbanism from IUAV University of Venice, later published in a book entitle “Arcipelaghi e Enclave” (Bruno Mondadori, Milan 2007), an investigation on the emerging spatial order dictated by the paradigm of security and control. Sandi Hilal holds a Ph.D. in Transborder policies for daily life, University of Trieste, Italy and directed for seven years the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) Camp Improvement Program in the West Bank.  

Their artist practice has received the following awards and grants: Price Claus Prize for Architecture, shortlisted for Visible Award, the Curry Stone Design Price, the New School’s Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, the Anni and Heinrich Sussmann Artist Award , the Chrnikov Prize and recipient of the Foundation for Art initiatives grant.