skip to content

Centre for Urban Conflicts Research



Irit Katz is an architect and scholar who focuses on the socio-political and cultural aspects of architecture and urbanism. Her work examines the dynamic relations between the built environment and the changing human condition, covering a range of historical and contemporary areas and geographical contexts. She is particularly interested in the processes through which human environments are formed and reshaped in extreme situations such as forced displacement and violent conflicts, as well as in the role of spaces of everyday life in mediating social, ethnic and cultural diversity. Her research examines these environments as ever-changing spatial constellations through which political negotiations and cultural transformations are staged and reworked. 

Irit’s research has won numerous academic awards including the SAH/Mellon Author Award and the RIBA President’s Award for Research and her work has appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals including Public Culture, City, Political Geography, Progress in Human Geography and The Journal of Architecture. Her forthcoming monograph, The Common Camp: Spatial Instruments of Power and Resistance on the Edge of Architecture (University of Minnesota Press), focuses on Israel-Palestine as an extensive laboratory of camps and examines how camps, whether employed by colonial, national and global powers as instruments of control or constructed ad hoc as makeshift spaces of resistance and refuge, are used as versatile mechanisms by which modern societies and territories are administered, negotiated and reorganised. In her forthcoming co-edited volume Camps Revisited (Rowman & Littlefield’s series Geopolitical Bodies, Material Worlds), the multifaceted spatial forms and meanings of the camp are examined in multiple geopolitical contexts.

Irit held academic position at the University of Pennsylvania, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the University of Sheffield. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge, MA (Magna Cum Laude) in Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies and a B.Arch (Cum Laude) in Architecture. Her career as a practicing architect in Tel Aviv and in London includes work on large scale housing projects such as Peabody Avenue social housing in Pimlico, London (for Haworth Tompkins) and the design of the winning entry for the English Partnerships bid for the housing scheme of the Victorian Stonehouse Hospital in Dartford, Kent (for HTA Architects).


The Common Camp: Architecture of Power and Resistance in Israel--Palestine (forthcoming, University of Minnesota Press).  

(edited with Claudio Minca & Diana Martin) Camps Revisited: Multifaceted Spatialities of a Modern Political Technology (in Rowman & Littlefield's book series ‘Geopolitical Bodies, Material Worlds’). 

Peer-reviewed articles

2019   (with Martin D. and C. Minca) Rethinking the Camp: On Spatial Technologies of Power and Resistance, Progress in Human Geography.

2017   Between bare life and everyday life: spatialising the new migrant camps in Europe, Amps: Architecture_Media_Politics_Society (journal of UCL Press).

2017   The Common Camp: Temporary Settlements as a Spatio-Political Instrument in Israel-Palestine, The Journal of Architecture, 22 (1), 54-103.

2016   Camp evolution and Israel’s creation: between ‘state of emergency’ and ‘emergence of state’, Political Geography, 55, 144-155.

2015   Spreading and Concentrating: the Camp as the Space of the Frontier, City, ‘Durable Camps’ special issue, 19(5), 722-735.

2010   Spaces Stretch Inward: Interactions between Architecture and Minor Literature', Public Culture, 22/3 (62), 425-432.

Book chapters

2020   Precariousness and Protest: Negotiating Urban Refuge in Cairo and Tel Aviv. In: Goldhill, S. (ed.), Being Urban: Community, Conflict and Belonging in the Middle East. Routledge.

2020   Adhocism, Agency and Emergency Shelter: On Architectural Nuclei of Life in Displacement. In: T. Scott-Smith & M. E. Breeze (eds.), Structures of Protection: Rethinking Refugee Shelter. Berghahn Books.

2019   En Route: The Networked Mobile Border Camps of Northern France. In Darshani Pieris, A. (ed.), Architecture on the Borderline: Boundary politics and built space. In the book series ‘Architext’ of Routledge.

2018  (with Minca C. and D. Martin) The Camp Reconsidered’. First co-author  In I. Katz, C. Minca & D. Martin (eds.), Camps Revisited. London: Rowman & Littlefield (2018), pp. 1-14.

2018   (with Parsloe T., Poll Z. and Scafe-Smith A.), The Bubble, the Airport, the Jungle: Europe’s Urban Migrant Camps. In I. Katz, C. Minca & D. Martin (eds.), Camps Revisited. London: Rowman & Littlefield (2018), pp. 61-82.

2018  (with Gueguen-Teil C.) On the Meaning of Shelter: Living in Calais’ Camps de la Lande.  In I. Katz, C. Minca & D. Martin (eds.), Camps Revisited. London: Rowman & Littlefield (2018), pp. 83-98.

2012   Tents, in The Political Lexicon of the Social Protest, Israel (Summer 2011- ), Editor: Ariel Handel, Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, Tel Aviv (In Hebrew).

Journal papers, commentaries, reviews and online essays

2019   Urban Recalibrations and Radical Potentials. A book review for Rethinking Life at the Margins: The Assemblage of Contexts, Subjects and Politics ed. by Michele Lancione, City vol. 23.1 (2019), 128-132.

2018   (with Ammar Azzouz), Fleeing Home at Home: Internal Displacement in Homs, Syria. The Middle East Centre website of The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

2017   Architecture of Control and Struggle: Camps and the Reordering of Populations and Territories in Israel-Palestine. Architecture Beyond Europe (ABE), vol. 12 (2017). Journal of Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) & Institut national d'histoire de l'art (INHA).

2017   Homeland: Zionism as Housing Regime 1860-2011 by Yael Allweil (a book review), Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review (TDSR), vol. XXIX (2017), pp. 88-89. Journal of the Center for Environmental Design Research, University of California at Berkeley.

2017   Pre-fabricated or Freely fabricated?, Forced Migration Review, ‘Shelter in Displacement’ issue, vol. 54, 17-19 (journal of University of Oxford; also translated to Arabic, French and Spanish).

2017   (with Felipe Hernández) Urban Spaces of Internal Displacement in Mexico: Reproducing Inequalities, ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin Americs. XVI-2, 58-60.  

2017   A Global Infrastructure of Camps, an essay for the MoMA exhibition Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter.

2016   The Common Camp, The RIBA Journal December 2016, p. 38.

2016   A network of camps on the way to Europe, Forced Migration Review, 'Destination Europe', 51, 17-19 (journal of University of Oxford; also translated to Arabic, French and Spanish).

2015   From Spaces of Thanatopolitics to Spaces of Natality – A Commentary on ‘Geographies of the Camp’', Political Geography, 49, 84-86.

2007   Spaces Stretch Inward, Theory and Criticism, Volume 30, 231-236, Van-Lir Institute, Jerusalem (In Hebrew).

Academic awards for research

2018   The SAH/Mellon Author Award.

2017   The Annual Ben Halpern Award for the Best Dissertation in Israel Studies, the international Association for Israeli Studies (AIS). 

2016   The RIBA President’s Awards for Research in the ‘Cities and Communities’ category.

2013   The James Morris Essay Prize, The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, for the article: 'Camps in Mandatory Palestine: The Emergence of Temporary Architecture as a Spatio-Political Instrument'.

2003   First prize in the Yitzhaki Netzer research papers competition, Ben Gurion University.

Academic Fellowships, scholarships and grants

2018          Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University's Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Arts.

2017-18     Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania's Perry World House.

2017          The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Opler Membership Grant for      Emerging Professionals.

2017          The international Association for Israel Studies (AIS) travel grant, Brandeis University.

2013-14     Pfeiffer Scholarship, Girton College, Cambridge.

2012-14     Ida and Isidore Cohen Scholarship, Girton College, Cambridge.

2012-14     Kettle’s Yard Travel Award, University of Cambridge.

2013         The Pillman Fund, Girton College, Cambridge.

2012         Ruth Whaley Scholarship, Girton College, Cambridge.

2012, 2014 Kythe Waldram Travel Award, Girton College, Cambridge.

2011-13     Kenneth-Lindsay Scholarship Award, The Anglo – Israel Association.

2005          Departmental Bursary, the Program for Hermeneutics, BIU.

2000, 1999  Awards for academic achievements, Dept. of Architecture, Bezalel.

1999           Award for excellence in design, Dept. of Architecture, Bezalel.

Selected conference presentations    

2018   ‘Architecture on the Move: Carrying Architectural Traditions to Spaces of Refuge’, Urban Renewal and Resilience: Cities in Comparative Perspectives, The European Association for Urban History (EAUH) conference session ‘Beyond the Camp: The Unbounded Architecture and Urbanism of Refugees’, Rome, August.

2018   ‘Border Migrant Camps: Containing Movement and Moving Containment between the State and the City’, The 17th conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM), in the session ’Moving Camps and Carceral Junctions’, Thessaloniki, July.

2018   ‘Spaces of Forced Migrants in the City: Between Local, Municipal, National and International Levels’, American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual conference session ‘Breaking boundaries from bottom to top: Critical approaches to migration’, New Orleans, April.

2017   ‘Fleeing Home at Home: Internal Displacement in Homs, Syria’ (presented by co-author Ammar Azzouz, Arup), Responses to Displacement in the Middle East Conference, the London School of Economics (LSE), London, November.

2017   ‘Camps in Israel-Palestine - a New Genealogy’, the 33rd Conference of the Association for Israel Studies, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA June.

2017   ‘Institutional, Makeshift, Hybrid: A Century of Camps in Israel-Palestine’, the International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), Glasgow, June.

2017   ‘Toward a New Genealogy of the Camp’, the Refugee Studies Centre conference ‘Beyond Crisis: Rethinking Refugee Studies’, Oxford, March.

2016   ‘Spaces In-Between: Camps and the New Geographies of the Exception’ (with Prof. Claudio Minca and Dr Diana Martin), the RGS-IBG conference, London, August.

2015   ‘Makeshift Migrant Camps in European Cities: The Soft Belly of Western Urbanism’, in ‘Migrants in the City’, Sheffield, October.

2015   ‘Camps of Expansion, Camps of Exclusion: The Versatile Spatiality of the Exception’, in POLIS-LSE Conference, ‘Order, Legitimacy, and Contestation in Global Politics’, Cambridge, May.

2015   ‘Camps in Israel-Palestine’, ArcXchange, cross-disciplinary architecture conference, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, April.

2014   ‘Caravans, Shipping Containers, Mud Bricks and Corrugated Steel: Materiality of Ad Hoc Architecture in Israel-Palestine’, the RGS-IBG conference, London, August.

2014   ‘From Expansion to Exclusion: The Versatile Spatio-Political Instrument of the Camp’, in the session ‘The Political Geographies of Camps’, a Political Geography session at the IGU Regional Conference, Krakow, August.

2013   ‘Between Exclusion and Co-operation: The Subversive Action of the Urban Camp’, paper presentation in the session ‘urban camps’, at the conference ‘Resourceful cities’ of RC21, the International Sociological Association, Berlin, August.

2013   ‘Common Camps: Temporary Architecture as a Spatio-Political Instrument in Mandatory Palestine’, paper presentation at the Annual Symposium of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB), London, May.

2011   ‘Spaces Stretch Inward - on Architecture, Conflicts and Minor Literature’, paper presentation at the Bezalel History and Theory Conference ‘On Conflict’, Jerusalem, December.

Selected invited presentations, seminars and panels

‘Urban Hospitality or the Right to the City?’, Penn and Mellon Foundation H+U+D (Humanities+Urbanism+Design) Initiative colloquium, Philadelphia, April 2018.

Urban Refuge: Spaces of Control, Hospitality and Ambiguous Governance in the City’, Penn Global & Perry World House seminar series, Philadelphia, April 2018.

'Researching Spaces of Displacement’, Architecture Talks, PennDesign colloquium, March 2018.

‘En Route between Cities and Camps: On Europe’s Flickering Borderscapes’, SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies seminar series, London, January 2018.

‘Spaces on the Move: On Europe’s Mobile Border Camps’, Designing Displaced Lives, a panel of The Cambridge Migration Society, January 2018.

‘On Urban Hospitality’, for the workshop ‘Cities: Conflict, Informality, Culture’, The Martin Centre 50th Anniversary Conference, Cambridge, December 2017.

‘Spaces of Urban Refuge – What can Cities Offer?, Perry World House Global Shifts Workshop ‘Fostering Integration: A Multi-Stakeholder Analysis’, UPenn, Philadelphia, December 2017.

‘Are international institutions prepared to deal with new humanitarian realities, especially for refugees?’, The World Today, a Perry World House event of a public conversation between Anne Richard, former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and myself, UPenn, Philadelphia, September 2017.

‘Acting locally and thinking globally: how can cities and regions respond to refugees and forced migrants?’, a Refugee Week panel discussion, Jesus College, Cambridge, June 2017. 

'The Common Camp'. RIBA President’s Awards for Research Winners Presentations, Royal Institute of British Architects, London, May 2017.

‘Rethinking the Camp: Spatial Technologies of Power and Resistance’, the Human Geography Seminar Series, University of Birmingham, February 2017.

‘Dwelling in an Emergency Shelter: Between Geopolitics and Everyday Life’, a seminar on ‘Emergency Shelter’, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, November 2016.

‘Urban Protest Camps as Spaces of Appearance’, presentation in the panel ‘Sites of Possibilities or Repression? Walking the Memories of the City’, Festival of Ideas and the Department of Education panel, Cambridge, October 2016.

‘Camp Spaces and their Meaning’, an event on refugees of the Global Health Education Programme, UCL Medsin, London, November 2016.

‘Prefab or Freefab? On the Deeper Meanings of Emergency Architecture, International Workshop at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, ‘Humanitarian Objects’, July 2016.

‘Between Bare Life and Everyday Life: the camps along Europe’s migration routes’, the 1st Annual Conference of the ERC project EU Border Care, European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Florence, June 2016.

‘Spaces of Expansion, Exclusion, Control and Resistance: Towards a New Genealogy of the Camp’, the inaugural lecture, JNL Baker Society for Geography, Jesus College, University of Oxford, March 2016.

‘The Common Camp: Temporary environments as a Political Instrument in Israel-Palestine’, The Department of Architecture, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, November 2015.

‘From Ethno-National Separation to Local Co-operation: The Story of Two Camps in the Israeli Frontier’, The Woolf Institute, Cambridge, June 2015.

‘Instruments of Expansion and Exclusion: Towards a Genealogy of Camps in Israel-Palestine’, Academy of Urban Super-diversity, the Max Planck Institute, Berlin, April 2015.

From Camps into Cities: The Provisional Foundations of Permanent Israeli Spaces’, in a joint graduate workshop of The Centre for Urban Conflicts Research and Space and Society group in the Faculty of Architecture of La Sapienza, Rome, May 2014.

'Camps as Infrastructure: Spatial and Everyday Perspectives', presentation with Dr Silvia Pasquetti at 'Civic Matter' seminar series, CRASSH, Cambridge, November 2013.

‘Suspended Present, Erased Past – the Distorted Space and Time of the Common Camp’, the Goldsmiths Symposium ‘Thinking Memory Through Space: Materiality, Representation and Imagination', London, July 2013.

Selected academic activities

2018   Member of Jury in the Architecture Competition Place and Displacement: Integrating Refugee Populations within Cities’ of IDeA (International Development in Action), The Macmillan Center Yale University, GSAPP Columbia University, and Wagner NYU.

2017-2018   Academic advisor for the Arup research project (Invest in Arup):Urban Resilience in Homs During and After the Conflict’ by Ammar Azzouz.

2017    Co-convener (with Dr. Felipe Hernández) of the session ‘Spaces of Displacement’, the Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), Glasgow, June 2017.    

2016-2017  ‘Ephemeral Architecture’ – collaborating on a display curated by Olivia Horsfall Turner at the V&A+RIBA Gallery, the V&A Museum, London. 

2016-2017 Member of the jury in the Architecture and Public Administration Competition ‘Place and Displacement: A Marketplace in Refugee Settlements’ of IDeA (International Development in Action) and Yale University.

2016     Convener and Chair of the panel ‘Spaces of Suspended Movements’, Festival of Ideas, Cambridge, October 2016.

2016 Member of Advisory Board for the ESRC projectArchitectures of Displacement: forms, experiences and implications of emergency shelter’, Refugee Study Centre, University of Oxford.

2016      Participant in the panel ‘Sites of Possibilities or Repression? Walking the Memories of the City’, Festival of Ideas, Cambridge, October 2016.

2016     Co-convener (with Prof. Claudio Minca and Dr. Diana Martin) of the 4 sessions ‘The Spaces In-between: Investigating Camps and Spatialities of Exception’, the RGS-IBG conference, London, August 2016

2015-2020     Participant in a CRASSH five years project titled ‘Topographies of Citizenship’, which will look at current specific problems of the Middle East.

2012     Co-convener (with Prof. James D. Sidaway), two sessions titled ‘The Political  Geographies of Camps’, for Political Geography’, IGU Regional Conference, Krakow.

2011-13 Co-conveners of the History and Theory Research Seminar. This seminar offers a forum for intellectual exchange and the dissemination of research in the field of History and Theory of Architecture.

2010  Curator of a photography exhibition in Spiro Ark gallery, London, displaying the work of Bedouin children from Wadi Elnea’am unrecognized village (with Dukium – The Negev Coexistence forum).


In Cambridge, Irit teaches the Year 3 University Course 'Informalities'.

She also  developed and presented the following lectures in University Courses: ‘Structuralism’ – a lecture for the course 'Theories in 20th Century Architecture'; and  'Camps, Cities, Territories: Organising and Managing the Space of the Modern State in the Middle East and Beyond’– a lecture for the course 'Divided Cities'.

She served as a supervisor for the following BA Tripos (ARB/RIBA Part I) Courses, including: History and Theory of Architecture (Pre- and post 1800); Theories in Twentieth-Century Architecture; Housing and Urban Form: developments in Britain 1840-2012; Gardens and Landscape Design; and Islamic Architecture.

Irit also supervises BA and MA dissertations.

In PennDesign, University of Pennsylvania, Irit was a guest Lecturer for ‘The Immigrant City’ course lead by Prof. Domenic Vitiello.

In the School of Architecture of Oxford Brookes University, Irit lectured in the Module Vernacular Architecture, Sustainability and Development.


Hibernating (2012) and Autumn Report (2016), Irit’s poetry collections, were published by Hakkibutz Hameuchad Publishing House, Israel, with ‘Kesset’ publishing grant. Her poems appeared in poetry journals and in the general press, and her poems won the 2014 Lider Award for Literature.


  • Urban exclusion and inequality.
  • Spaces of displacement, migration and refuge.
  • Camps (refugee camps, migrant camps, resettlement camps, protest camps, detention camps, etc.).
  • Transnational and urban borderscapes.
  • Spaces of conflict and violence.
  • Colonial and postcolonial environments.
  • Emergency shelter.
  • Housing, including rights and evictions.
  • Intangible heritage and architectures 'on the move'.
  • The relations between politics and poetics.
Lecturer in Architecture and Urban Studies, University of Cambridge
Dr Irit  Katz