Architecture, Planning, and International Law: On Domicide

Legal and built environment experts evaluate the concept of domicide and its application to the current crisis in Gaza and beyond.

June 4, 2024

Recorded on May 23, 2024.

Architecture, Planning, and International Law is an open-ended series that brings together legal and built environment experts to discuss urgent topics at the intersection of their jurisdictions.

With over 34,000 people killed since October 7, 2023, two million displaced, and 70 percent of the housing stock either damaged or destroyed, the acute crisis in Gaza sits in a geographically broad and historically deep context of global conflict where the built environment has often worsened, rather than improved, the lives of those affected. The Architectural League seeks to encourage disciplinary engagement that reflects critically on destruction—resisting the common impulses that lead our professions to privilege construction.

How might this destruction be stopped? International law remains one of the only paths to seek accountability. And it is not only lawyers who make its systems function. Through their stewardship of the built environment (including long-standing engagement with the right to housing and the politics of climate change), architects, planners, and preservationists can shed light on the techniques, procedures, and consequences of modern urban warfare. They also have the potential to change them.

In this video, Natasha Aruri, an urbanist and researcher based in Berlin and Ramallah, and Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, focus on the concept of “domicide,” and the current campaign to codify it explicitly as a crime against humanity.

The program is introduced and moderated by Brad Samuels, founding principal of the architecture firm SITU and director of SITU’s research division.


The views expressed in the League’s online and in-person programs are those of the speakers only and do not reflect an official position of The Architectural League of New York.


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