Elias and Yousef are partners at AAU Anastas Architects, co-founders of Local Industries, co-founders of Radio alHara and co-founders of The Wonder Cabinet.
AAU Anastas is a wholly Palestinian architectural and engineering firm with offices in Bethlehem and Paris engaged in counter hegemonic practice. Founded in 1979, their work combines architecture, furniture making, research and cultural initiatives.
The studio focuses on tying links between crafts and architecture at scales that vary from furniture design to territorial explorations. The studio has been advocating for a contemporary use of structural stone in architecture in Palestine and elsewhere, and has been particularly interested in the politics of stone use for low carbon footprint structures, more resilient cities and more responsible quarries’ exploitation.
Linking hyper contextual conditions that are different a priori to create a new strengthened global critical discourse has been at the intersection of all of their practices.
Qamt, acquired by the V&A, + All Purpose, at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, came out of research projects SCALES (2016), that links scales that are usually opposed, and STONE MATTERS (2017), a reaction to a 1918 British mandate, and an experimental exploration of decolonising architecture at the scale of the construction detail. It examines the potential of structural stone within contemporary architecture + combining traditional craftsmanship with innovative techniques. It challenges the instrumentalisation of architecture for political ends + its complicity in sustaining settler colonialism, made legible by the systemic misuse of stone cladding in Palestine.
In 2020, they co-founded Radio Al Hara, a multifaceted community based online radio that weaves unconventional nets of solidarities through sonic experiences. On the basis that, ‘the asymmetric relationship between those who give orders & those who must obey is always demonstrated by who controls access to the soundscape’, Radio Alhara started The Sonic Liberation Front, an initiative by a group of sound platforms/artists who came together to unify their sound + protest against the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
In 2012 they established Local Industries, a community of industrial furniture makers. It reasserts the value of local Palestinian labour without freezing it in an obsolete role or imposing alien standards to its methods. Most recently they have launched the Wonder Cabinet, a space based initiative in Bethlehem for cultural productions that gathers a community of artisans and artists from technical and artistic realms with the aim of producing a culture of global provincialism.
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