Not many cities manage to get themselves rebuilt. When a city disappears it is either the result of destruction by a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or tsunami; otherwise it is some man-made calamity such as Dresden or Nagasaki. Perhaps the most dramatic rebuilding of a city is Chicago, which was almost totally destroyed by fire and today is listed among the great cities of the world. Then there is the opposite, a city which never did recover — Vesuvius which re-created itself into a highly successful tourist spot.
The Middle East is now faced with various scenarios in two places that self-destructed, Syria and Gaza City, both laid flat by war. It seems that in a couple of days peace will descend on Gaza City and this will be the citizens’ opportunity to re-create their city. But they have act fast, before the bad guys start building more tunnels, deeper and more convoluted and inaccessible than the last lot.
Gaza City should announce an international competition for the design of the New Gaza City. All that is needed now is to set a few basic planning requirements and run ads in all the world’s major papers. They will be stunned by the replies and inquiries they receive, from the largest and most prestigious architectural and planning firms down to one-man practices from around the world. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. The result, and I am ‘imagineering’, will be an ultra-modern skyscraper city with accommodation for all those who will want to live there. A city that will contain high-rise buildings, green open spaces, facilities and recreation spaces for the children and the oldies, tourist facilities, transport systems and whatever one can think of. A 2015 city.
Take a look at what one of the Arab Emirates created in Dubai without the benefit of water, oil or any natural resources other than sand. In many ways it’s a showplace, built with borrowed money and rapidly becoming self-supporting. Gaza City went along the opposite path and built useless facilities with donated money. Money we watched going up in smoke these past few weeks. Perhaps we shouldn’t have destroyed some of them so hastily; they could have been the new city’s sewers and water systems. They could have run the electric, phone, gas and TV cables underground and built a city with no overhead wires. How about the future underground high-speed transit system racing down those tunnels?
Gaza City could be the new Dubai, a city that will draw visitors from all over the world. A city in the center of the Middle East, a place of business and entertainment, a city of modern architecture offering comfortable and ideal accommodation to its residents. Gaza City would be a seafront city at the eastern end of the Mediterranean with solar generated energy and unlimited desalinated water.
How about it, Gazans? Your tunnel concept didn’t work out… You can’t even sell tickets to tourists to see the ruins.