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The springs became cubes of stone with water trickling down them, the pattern became more discreet but still Arabic.I came to realise how easily the project could be toppled by collisions of strongly held opinions and decided from then on to stick to the award-winning entry’s chartered course.The millennium celebrations would be a time when hundreds of millions focused on how Bethlehem was being restored, preparing to receive thousands of tourists and pilgrims. Patriarchs representing the four oldest Christian communities sat in front of the podium, peacefully lined up in their distinguished traditional black attire. For hundreds of years, in fact since the beginning of AD 800, because of Charlemagne’s conflict with the Byzantine Empire, the Christian communities, especially Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Catholics, have been enemies and competitors for the ownership of The Nativity Church.They have fought in various underhand ways for every centimetre of floor space (among other things, these disputes are said to have led to the outbreak of the horrific Crimean War in 1853).

I would also like to thank my friend Lasse Wilhelmson for his untiring encouragement, help and good advice that have made my story possible. He had assembled the programme that would launch a competition for architects, involving a square and a culture centre opposite Bethlehem’s Nativity Church. But my wife and I were going away on holiday in three weeks time so I had not even considered taking part. ” asked Alexis “It ought to be right up your street”.Nyréns, the firm of architects I worked for, allowed me to use the workplace for my project for the competition. I found it contained most of the information I needed to get to know the subject properly.I became ever more involved the deeper I delved into the assignment.If you do not believe me, you might like to view this video film of another incident: After the awards the mayor took me out on to the balcony facing the square for a private talk.He pointed to the smallish house in the gardens, owned by the Greek Orthodox church and close to the entrance of the Nativity Church. He hinted that this proximity to holiness was indecent. Off the record, the mayor ordered me to re-design the culture house so that its restaurant was closer to the Omar mosque on the other side of the square instead of to the Nativity Church, as I had drawn it.

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