Vertical informality: The case of Kufr Aqab in East Jerusalem

Maliha Zugayar, Nufar Avni*, Emily Silverman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper explores the phenomenon of vertical informality, an under-studied form of informal housing at large scale, and the role of developers within vertical informality. We investigate the case of vertical informality in Kufr Aqab, East Jerusalem, where developers have constructed multiple high-rise apartment buildings with thousands of inhabited apartments without land registration, zoning or building permits. We investigate the conditions for the formation of vertical informality in Kufr Aqab and explore the developers’ perspectives and risks, including land ownership, finance, reputation and professional ethics, and construction standards. Drawing from the case study and interviews with local developers, as well as literature on informality, we define vertical informality as (i) developer-built high-rise or mid-rise housing for sale or for rent, that (ii) lacks formal registration and bank-financing, and (iii) does not comply with formal planning and building codes. Some aspects of vertical informality are unique to Kufr Aqab, relating mainly to the geopolitical status of contested East Jerusalem. Other aspects are significant worldwide, shedding light on the role of the real estate developers in informal housing. We conclude with directions for future research.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105395
JournalLand Use Policy
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Affordable housing
  • Informal housing
  • Jerusalem
  • Kufr Aqab
  • Real estate developers
  • Vertical informality


Dive into the research topics of 'Vertical informality: The case of Kufr Aqab in East Jerusalem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this