The Coexistence Change Centre-Via The Academy of Art University

The Coexistence Change Centre-Via The Academy of Art University

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Academy of Art University-School of Interior Architecture and Design‘s 2012 Spring Show and Reception.

The evening was a showcase of some of the best work submitted by graduating students. During the course of the evening which also honored Cindy Allen, Editor & Chief of Interior Design Magazine, with a honorary Doctorate Degree, I met Graduate Student Wesam Azar and was privileged to see her thesis project for her Masters Degree.

Rendering by Wesam Azar-entry for the Coexistence Change Centre

Beyond a project that was beautifully designed, well executed and completely thought out, she approached her thesis with a Global Intention. Entitled the Coexistence Change Centre (CCC), she envisioned a place for all people to come together in peace and harmony. She took the existing Tantur Ecumenical Institute located on a hill in Jerusalem, close to Bethlehem by the barrier wall; built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line” between Israel and Palestinian West Bank, she re-designed it with heartfelt intention and great beauty.

Wesam Azar

Taking the shape that underscores her design from sections of the barrier wall which are slabs of concrete contiguous for miles that stood as a barrier between Israel and Palestine, she transformed the shape and concrete texture with the use of warm Jerusalem Gold Stone throughout. But beyond the design itself I was curious as to why this?  Growing up as a Christian in Rahmalla, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, Wesam said this:

Growing up as a child and an adult in a war and conflict environment did not allow me to live a normal life. This cycle of violence and suffering that cause a lot of pain for my family, friends, and neighbors ignited a spark in my heart to find a way to bring people together, not only Palestinians and Israelis, but also people from all around the world. As an artist I see beauty everywhere especially in humans, and since I hate to see people suffering and I believe that we all deserve to live in peace without violence or war, I wanted to do something to help create peace. The reason for choosing this particular intention for my project started when I came here to the United States and saw how people from all different places live together without any bad feeling or mal-intention to each other. I always wanted that for the people I belong to.”

I asked her how she came to live here in San Francisco and attend the AAU. She replied that Academy of art is one of the biggest art schools in the United States, it was easy for her to get into it, and that while most of her family is still in Rahmalla she has cousins and brothers who live here. She plans to complete her practice in the US and to go far in this field, working on global projects. She also wants to propose her CCC project to peace organizations, to both the Palestinian and Israeli governments, and hopes it will be built for real in Jerusalem as proposed, as well as in many places around the world.

Wesam’s presentation at the AAU

I for one find this kind of thinking incredibly inspiring and a big bit of beauty for sure! It gives me hope that while all we may hear in the media is about the negativity in this highly volatile part of our world, never the less, there are those working for peace. I wish Wesam great luck, and what ever I can do to help make her dreams, and the dreams of many of us for peace come true-I will!

image via by Italian photographer and conceptual artist Filippo Minelli

For more inspiring work being done for peace check out the following:

And Check out Wesam’s project for the Coexistence Change Center below. Impressive, don’t you think? Do you think we can turn a political barrier into peaceful coexistence?

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  1. […] talents to serve our world. Recently I wrote the story of  Wesam Azar, the designer of the The Coexistence Change Centre. And now here’s the story of how a 21-year-old design student’s sleeping-bag coat could […]

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