City of Sand

UIA – HYP Cup Competition


UIA-HYP Cup International Student Competition




Shahar Glass


Located in Israel’s Central District, the city of Ramlah, once a regional capital of the first Islamic caliphate, is now home for about 70,000 Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens. The meaning of the name Ramlah comes from the Arabic word for sand – Ramal. This seems eerily fitting as the city was reduced to rubble in the 11th century by devastating earthquakes. As most of the city lay in ruins, the underground water systems remained untouched to this very day, 1000 years later.

Ramlah has been rebuilt and expanded throughout modern history but still faces the danger of yet another disaster. The fear of ambiguous catastrophe is prevalent in Israel, as is the wish to find shelter from it. As Ramlah is located on both a geological and cultural seam, this fear prevails the local mindset.

We decided to accommodate that fear, and not to interfere by attempting to heal it. Our proposal transformed the ancient underground water system into a safe space with urban programs, offering a platform for activity and community beneath the city.

The Site

A New Underground Paradigm