A design for a building that would allow Palestinians to communicate when entering Israel has won a former Kineton High School pupil a prestigious architecture award.
Thomas Smith, who is currently studying at Oxford Brookes University, was seleted for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) South Student Award. He was presented with his accolade by Mark Shipton, chairman of RIBA’s Oxfordshire branch at the recent end-of-year show at the university’s school of architecture.
The judges were impressed by Thomas’s design for a building that would allow Palestinians to disrupt communications equipment when entering Israel. In his concept, secret broadcasting is concealed behind a paper mill and printing press that serve as a public face to the building’s true functions.
The communication equipment is placed inside hollow walls and roofs, emerging through the exterior fabric when transmitting signals.
Thomas, who grew up in Kineton, said: “The ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel can be seen largely as a struggle for resources. Many communities suffer from water insecurity, pollution and high costs.
“The village of Beit Iksa on the West Bank historically relied on Jerusalem as a source of employment for its residents. My Pirate Broadcast and Paper Processing Unit project follows the Shabahim, or ‘ghost workers’ who are forced to enter Israel illegally in order to earn a livelihood.
“The unit capitalises on the ingenuity of younger generations and the latent power of public messaging to allow Palestinians to reclaim control of the electromagnetic spectrum. Villagers are enabled to report on water infrastructure destruction, pollution and environmental degradation. By disrupting detection and communication equipment, they can avoid detection when entering and leaving Israel.”