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Department of Architecture



Dr Irit Katz is an architect and a researcher at the University of Cambridge's Department of Architecture, Bye-Fellow and Director of Studies at Girton College Cambridge. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge, MA (Magna Cum Laude) in Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies from Bar Ilan University and a B.Arch (Cum Laude) in Architecture from Bezalel Academy for Art and Design, Jerusalem. She practiced as an architect in Tel Aviv and in London, specializing in urban planning and housing schemes.

Irit's research, which won the 2016 President’s Award for Research in the Cities and Communities category given by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), centres on the spatial, ethnographic, geopolitical and historical study of spaces of displacement, movement and refuge. Her work examines how camps, whether employed by colonial, national and global powers as instruments of control, or constructed ad hoc by displaced populations as makeshift spaces of refuge, are used as versatile mechanisms by which modern societies and territories are administered, negotiated and reorganised. She studies camps in Israel-Palestine since the early 20th century until the present, the camps that are currently created and altered along Europe's migration routes, as well as the subject of urban hospitality and the city as a space of displacement and  refuge. Her work has appeared in a number of peer-reviewed scholarly journals including Public Culture, City, Political Geography and The Journal of Architecture.

Irit is also a poet. She published two poetry collections  (Hibernating, 2012; Autumn Report, 2016), both in Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House with ‘Kesset’ publishing Grant, and won the Lider Award for Literature (2015). Her poems in Hebrew and their English translations were published in poetry journals and in the general press. 

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Camps; Cities; Spaces of Displacement, Migration and Refuge; Temporary Architecture; Colonial/Postcolonial spaces; Urban Informalities; Europe and the Middle East; Agamben; Baumann; Foucault;  Architecture and Literature.


Key publications: 

2017  'The Common Camp: Temporary Settlements as a Spatio-Political Instrument in Israel-Palestine', The Journal of Architecture (forthcoming).

2016  The Ephemeral Thresholds of Europe, SLUM-Lab 11: Forced Migration (journal of ETH Zürich; forthcoming).

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

2017 (with Felipe Hernández) 'Urban Spaces of Internal Displacement in Mexico: Reproducing Inequalities', ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin Americs. Winter 2016  (journal of Harvard University; forthcoming).

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

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

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

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

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

2012    'No Way Out or What is a Minor Architecture?', Protocols – History & Theory, Issue No.26, Conflict: Antagonism and Creation, Fall 2012, Bezalel Academy for Art and Design, Jerusalem

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

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


Awards and Scholarships

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'.

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.

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

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

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


Selected Presentations, Lectures and Seminars

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

2015       ‘From ethno-national separation to local co-operation: the story of two camps in the Israeli frontier’, research seminar of The Woolf Institute, Cambridge, June 2015.

2015        'A Tool for Rapid Spatio-political changes:  Camps between the Middle East and Europe', City Seminar Workshop, CRASSH, Cambridge June 2015. 

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

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

2015     ‘Instruments of Expansion and Exclusion – Towards a Genealogy of Camps in Israel/Palestine’, Academy of Urban Super-diversity Slam presentation, the Max Plank Institute, Berlin, April 2015.

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

2014       ‘The Scattered Country’ – a response for the main ‘Political Geography’ lecture by Prof. Claudio Minca, IGU, Regional Conference, Krakow, August 2014.

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 2014.

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

2013      'Camps as infrastructure: Spatial and Everyday Perspectives', presentation with Dr. Silvia Pasquetti at 'civic matter' seminar series at CRASSH (Cambridge, 6th November 2013).

2013       ‘From Exclusion to Collaboration – The Subversive Action of the Urban Camp’, paper presentation at the conference ‘Resourceful cities’ (in a session titled ‘urban camps’) of the Research Committee 21 (RC21), the International Sociological Association, on Sociology of Urban and Regional Development (Berlin, August 2013).

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

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) ‘Transitory, Transportable and Transformable: Temporary Conditions in Architecture’ (London, May 2013).

2012       Poster titled ‘The Common Camp – Temporary Settlements as a Spatio-Political Instrument in Israel’, presented in the Centenary Symposium, The Department of Architecture, Cambridge.

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

2011-13   Convener of The Department of Architecture History and Theory Research Seminar.


Other Activities

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 A 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).



Irit serves as a supervisor for the following BA Tripos (ARB/RIBA Part I) Courses:

- 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.

- Islamic Architecture.

- supervising BA and MA dissertations.

She also gave the following lectures in University courses:

‘Structuralism’ – a lecture for the course 'Theories in 20th Century Architecture', Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge.

'From camps to cities in Israel-Palestine' – a lecture for the course 'Divided Cities', Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge.


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. 

Affiliated Researcher, Centre for Urban Conflicts Research
Bye-Fellow and Director of Studies in Architecture, Girton College
Dr Irit  Katz
Not available for consultancy