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— VENEZIA / 45°26′23″N 12°19′55″E

SYRIA - THE
MAKING OF THE
FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO
THE ARCHITECTURE
OF THE CITY
— VENEZIA / 45°26′23″N 12°19′55″E

SYRIA - THE
MAKING OF THE
FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO
THE ARCHITECTURE
OF THE CITY
Sponsored by:

SYRIA – THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE


FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

W.A.Ve. 2017
Curator: Alberto Ferlenga
Scientific director: Benno Albrecht
Coordination: Jacopo Galli
Organization: Sara Altamore, Alessandro Dal Corso, Letizia Goretti, Tania Sarria
Tutors: Wesam Asali, Maria Thala Al Aswad, Mariam Eissa, Lujain Hadba, Reem Harfoush,
Hasan Mansour, Rolana Rabih, Mounir Sabeh Affaki, Fares Al Saleh
Administration: Lucia Basile, Piera Terone
Graduate Students: Lorenzo Abate, Stefano Bortolato, Leonardo Brancaloni, Michele Brusutti,
Stefano Busetto, Davide Cargnin, Susanna De Vido, Pietropaolo Cristini, Martina Fadanelli,
Martina Germanà, Eugenio Gervasio, Maria Guerra, Irene Guizzo, Alessia Iannoli, Vartivar Jaklian,
Michele Maniero, Maddalena Meneghello, Avitha Panazzi, Silvia Pellizzon, Camilla Pettinelli,
Mariagiulia Pistonese, Giacomo Raffaelli, Elena Salvador, Antonio Signori, Sonia Zucchelli

edited by Jacopo Galli


Syria – The Making Of The Future. From Urbicide To The Architecture Of The City.

Incipit Editore ISBN: 978-88-85446-10-6


Università Iuav ISBN: 978-88-99243-18-0

Published by
Incipit Editore S.r.l.
via Asolo 12, Conegliano, TV
editore@incipiteditore.it

Co-published with
Università Iuav di Venezia
Santa Croce 191, Venezia ,VE

First edition: November 2017

Cover design: Stefano Mandato


Book design: Margherita Ferrari
Editing: Emilio Antoniol, Luca Casagrande, Margherita Ferrari
Text editing and translation: Teodora Ott
Photos: Rosalba Bertini, Gabriele Bortoluzzi, Matteo Grosso, Umberto Ferro, Letizia Goretti,
Luca Pilot

Copyright

This work is distributed under Creative Commons License


Attribution - Non-commercial - No derivate works 4.0 International
CONTENTS
5 W.A.Ve. 2017
Alberto Ferlenga
6 Peace and Architecture
Benno Albrecht
ESSAYS 10 Study, Design, Care
Alberto Ferlenga
22 Urbicide
Benno Albrecht
40 W.A.Ve. 2017: exercises in humanistic resistance
Jacopo Galli
70 Syrian cities and the challenges of reconstruction
Abdulaziz Hallaj
98 Cities in exile - cities of the future
Kilian Kleinschmidt
120 Semantics of patrimonial destruction
Manar Hammad
174 Ethics of intervention: framing the debate on reconstruction in Syria
Nasser Rabbat

ATLAS 198 Tales from Syria. Case studies


M. Wesam Al Asali, Maria-Thala Al-Aswad, Reem Alharfoush, Fares Al-Saleh

226 Syria

VENICE 341 Venice charter on reconstruction


CHARTER
SYR I A – TH E M A KIN G OF THE FUT URE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 4 —
W.A .Ve. 201 7

Al ber to Ferlenga

W.A.Ve. is now at its fifteenth edition but, despite this, its characterising
formula still works. Since its beginning, when it did not have its current
name yet, being a design workshop and an international architecture ex-
hibition at the same time has made it a unique product. If we consider
that each year more than 1,500 students and 30 teachers are involved, we
cannot deny that even the numbers are sizable. In these 15 years, about
23,000 students (not counting students from abroad) and 450 architects
(not counting assistants) have developed a project experience at Univer-
sità Iuav di Venezia that takes place in a narrow span of three weeks,
during which Iuav venues become training and meeting sites. Its open-air
workshop feature has brought many prestigious architects and names of
the international scene to the classroom venues of the Cotonificio Ven-
eziano and Magazzini: Pritzker prizes such as Eduardo Souto de Moura or
Alejandro Aravena, masters such as Yona Friedman and Pancho Guedes,
and renowned professionals such as Sean Godsell or Carme Pinos. Under
their guidance, Iuav undergraduates and foreign participants have devel-
oped (together and making no age distinction) a project experience that
pertains to the city of Venice and many other places as well. The same
summer days also see the spaces of the Santa Marta Auditorium and the
Tolentini Cloister become the scene of large conferences, making it pos-
sible for hundreds of students to follow the latest international projects or
reflections on the most pressing issues concerning cities and territories.
Above all, however, W.A.Ve. is special for the atmosphere that it creates
during its three weeks of work; discussions, projects, and meetings are
often expanded and brought outside the classrooms, in bars and Vene-
tian campi, and in the exhibitions that follow, transforming the campus of
Santa Marta into a major international architecture showcase.

For all these reasons, W.A.Ve. is unique and renowned among architects
and students of Architecture around the world, becoming one of the most
representative expressions of a school, Iuav, that has built its peculiar qual-
ity on international exchange, laboratory experience, and on city studies.

— 5 —
Pea c e a n d A rc h itec t u re

Benno Albrecht

1 — Elio Vittorini in
We invited many architects to Venice, to contrib-
SYR I A – TH E M A KIN G OF THE FUT URE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

“Il Politecnico”, n. 1,
September 29, 1945. ute to the discussion on the reconstruction of
countries destroyed by the madness of men. Like
2 — Pierre Rosanval-
lon, “La democrazia a round table, Università Iuav di Venezia became
dell’emergenza”, “La the venue for the dialogue and discussion on the
Repubblica”, April 16,
2012. possibilities of architecture to preserve and recon-
struct Peace. The will and desire for Peace was the
guest of honour of our 2017 W.A.Ve. workshop.

A post-WWII Italian intellectual, Elio Vittorini, said


that it was necessary to form “not a culture that
consoles in times of suffering, but a culture that
protects from it, fighting and eliminating it”1.

We see the University as an institution that serves so-


ciety and the generations of the future, alertly vigilant
and working to stay one step ahead. The relationship
between Universities and Administrations can become
operational and productive, precisely because the uni-
versity is the exact place to test hypothetical future
models — an “Academy of the Future”2, as described by
Pierre Rosanvallon — to overcome the fragmentation of
knowledge and educate in global civic responsibility.

In Iuav’s W.A.Ve. workshop, a future of Peace, the


reconstruction of Peace, has become an academic
topic, a forecast technique, and an experience in
practical planning of the future.

The immanence of the “environmental and human


disaster” that we see today in Syria overcomes the

— 6 —
3 — Valéry Antoine
concept of architecture (understood as a need, Claude Pasquin, “Venise
consequence or manifestation of something else), et ses environs”, Société
leading the discipline to inevitably participate, as belge de librairie, Brux-
elles, 1842, p.2.
an integral part, in the resolution of a local/global
“political and environmental” issue. In fact, one 4 — Letter from John
Adams to Abigail Ad-
of the most pressing topics in the field of civil ams, post 12 May 1780,
commitment (and in the operational field of archi- in L.H. Butterfield, Marc
Friedlaender, eds., “Ad-
tecture) is how to deal with the consequences of ams Family Correspond-
urbicides, with the deliberate violence against cit- ence”, Belknap Press
of Harvard University
ies, with their destruction, and with the intentional Press, Cambridge,1973.
elimination of collective memory made of stone.

Venice is where reflecting on these things is pos-


sible: a city that was described, by Richard Bon-
ington and by Antoine-Claude Valéry, as “a Pal-
myra of the Sea”3.

However, we side these reflections with the words


that John Adams wrote to his wife from Paris:
“The science of government is my duty to study,
more than all other sciences; the arts of law and
administration and negotiation should take the
place of, indeed, exclude, in a way, all other arts.
I must study politics and war, that our children
may have freedom to study mathematics and phi-
losophy. Our sons must study mathematics and
philosophy, geography, natural history and naval
architecture, navigation, commerce and agricul-
ture in order to give their children a right to study
painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tap-
estry and porcelain”4.

— 7 —
SYRIA - THE
MAKING OF THE
FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO
THE ARCHITECTURE
OF THE CITY

ESSAYS
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 10 —
Alb er to Fer leng a

Stud y, Desi g n , C a re

Al ber to Ferlenga

Just knowing the city of Bosra — with its buildings and — Alberto Ferlenga is
its Roman structure still used by today’s inhabitants, the rector of Università
Iuav di Venezia since
proof of its unique vitality — or travelling (even if only October 2015. He
with the imagination) to the colonnades of Palmyra, was full professor of
Architectural Design at
or getting lost in the bazaar of Aleppo — with its sky- Iuav, after 12 years at
lights filtering the light of the sun and moon — make Università Federico II
in Naples. Founder and
you weep the misfortune of Syria and wish to help her. director of the Villard
Association he was
a guest professor in
Throughout the millennia, its urban civilisation has numerous European and
left behind traces that are not only precious heritage American universities:
of their country, but that are also extraordinary con- Delft, Miami, Clemson,

S T U D Y, D E S I G N , C A R E
S. Juan de Puert Rico,
tributions to the whole world. Cities that were born and Lima. He is the au-
well before the Roman colonisation, and that sur- thor of numerous books:
the monographic work
vived well after its end; living cities and dead cities on Aldo Rossi, Dimitris
that both share the presence of ruins created by time, Pikionis, and Hans Van
der Laan (with P. Verde);
and rubble produced by war. The ruins of Damascus on Joze Plecnik’s work
and Aleppo at first, now wounded to death, and Saint in Ljubljana (with Sergio
Polano); the guide on
Simeon to follow, along with the other Byzantine cit- the Roman cities of
ies surrounding it: Apamea, Palmyra itself, and doz- northern Africa, and
ens of other settlements whose origins are rooted in numerous articles on
international journals.
the centuries. Cities that, in the pre-desertic scenery Editor of “Lotus
of Syria, appear like fragments of one single urban International” between
1981 and 1990, and of
form, the construction of which was brought forth by “Casabella” since 1996.
the best of Mediterranean and Asian cultures. Cities He was the curator of
numerous exhibitions:
in Syria did just limit themselves to building strong- Le città immaginate, 9
holds: their relationship with the surrounding territory progetti per 9 città (Tri-
ennale di Milano 1986),
has always been of a deep nature. The size of some Aldo Rossi (Centre Pom-
of the most important cities reaches the scale of the pidou, 1991, Triennale
whole landscape; the Greek and Roman colonnaded di Milano, 1999, Maxxi
2004), Calvino e le città
streets that characterise these cities — the plateie invisibili (Triennale di
and the decumani — go well beyond the conventional Milano 2002), Dimitris
Pikionis (Fondazione
size they have today.

— 11 —
Querini Stampalia, In Syria — place of transit and grand hub of transitional
Venezia, 1999), Hans
Van der Laan (Basilica routes — they transform into endless open monuments,
Palladiana, Vicenza, reducing the importance of forums or agoras in order
2000). He designed and
built numerous fittings, to confront themselves directly with mountains and val-
among which the Ital- leys. The ruins that remain of these plateie and decum-
ian Pavilion at the 5th
Mostra internazionale di
ani in Syria accentuate their original nature even more;
architettura della Bien- and so today, the martyrised roads of Palmyra tell us of
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

nale di Venezia (1991).


In 2000, he established
infinite distances, caravan trails, relationships between
the design studio cultures and places brought by silk or salt trade, Alex-
NA.oMI that participated ander the Great’s trans-continental incursions, and they
in numerous competi-
tions. tell us of the outstretch of the Greek, Latin, Arab, and
Persian languages. Here, sands and columns mingle
together and become routes, sepulchres, temples. Even
further away, the cities of Syria have generated other
cities: their image, exported as a scenery or relief, was
physically planted in other climates, in other latitudes,
to meet the ambitions of kings and emperors. This hap-
pened, for example, in St. Petersburg, called Northern
Palmyra, proof of how the main building material of cit-
ies are always other cities. Certainly, Syria is one of the
original countries and motherlands of the idea of “city”
itself. It is on its territory that you can find the remains
of the first known human settlements, like Sumerian
Mari, where the wear-and-tear of time has recently been
joined by that of the scars caused by the illegal exca-
vations, subsidised by the war. Even reduced to ruins,
since the time of its founding in the IV millennium BC,
Mari has never stopped dominating the mid-section of
the Euphrates, where the River draws a slight elbow on
the map. Further north, Mari’s contender Ebla, brought
back to light by Italian archaeologists, emphasises
the inseparable relationship between city and territory
still today. This relationship has been hindered in time,
when the city collapsed among the sands, and only re-
surfaced thanks to thoughtfully “set-up” excavations.
Considering this, for a school like Iuav — which bases
its renowned specificity on the study of cities (histori-

— 12 —
Alb er to Fer leng a

cal ones in particular) — dealing with what is happening


today in Syria is natural. If, unfortunately, the situation
in situ does not offer at the moment areas for direct ac-
tion (other than of a combat kind), the theme we must
devise during this “suspended period” is one to be de-
veloped in a near and peaceful future. In fact, the risks
do not only concern the immediate present. The pre-
sent war, for the cities and territories involved, may not
be the worst of evils, paradoxically. More than bombs
and bullets, the historical part of the country could be
further compromised by hasty and non-respectful re-
construction of the valuables at stake. It is not uncom-
mon for this to happen in places marked by conflicts
or other forms of destruction. From this point of view,
Italy has a specific tradition, a “virtuous” one, since it
has had to rebuild a large part of its historical heritage

S T U D Y, D E S I G N , C A R E
destroyed during a much more deadly world war than
the current one in Syria. As Italians, we have all the right
cards to make a useful contribution to Syrian recon-
struction. But what reconstruction should this be? And
what is at stake in Syria? Cities resuming their shapes
and the survival of archaeological remains are just the
tip of the iceberg of a much broader theme. In the clash
between the various factions fighting on the ground,
among rubble of buildings and ghosts of neighbour-
hoods, a complex identity is put up to chance; by los-
ing it, all forms of reconstruction would become purely
superficial and scenographic. An identity, or many iden-
tities that find their core meaning in the city and that
belong to us all; and to Italy in particular, whose history
is often intertwined with that of Syria, and whose land-
scape is nourished by the same relationship between
city and architecture. Iuav has found itself to face these
issues several times; and it is for this reason that mus-
tering international architectural culture, as a whole, to
reflect on them has a precise meaning and agenda. The
Venetian architecture school, as well as being one of

— 13 —
the universities that is most interested and attentive to
the formal aspects of the city, has also collaborated in
a long history of “reconstructions”. Draft projects for
the towns that were destroyed by the Vajont dam disas-
ter (1962) took place among Iuav’s walls. The com’era
dov’era method (already put to test in the restoration
of many Italian monuments destroyed during World
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

War II) was also put to test among these walls: by ap-
plying it to the case of Venzone area in Udine, heavily
damaged by the Friuli earthquake (1976), the Friulian
province was reborn and is today considered one of
the most beautiful villages in the region. Recompiling
communities destroyed by war or natural disasters is
not just a technical matter, but it implies a particular
knowledge and culture that few schools in the world
are able to produce.

Some of the necessary requirements have little to do


with schools and more to do with what surrounds us
every day: being born and living in the beauty deriving
from the century-old relationships between the various
components of a landscape certainly is a privileged
starting point. The beauty to which we are used to, in
Italy, is not only related to the architectural quality of
the buildings, but to a complex mix of factors that also
include inhabitants and territory. The most beautiful
places in the world are always the result of a complex
network of relationships, even when it is a particular
building that stands out in the foreground. For exam-
ple, we would have a distorted idea of the Acropolis
of Athens if we did not understand the complex rela-
tionship that tied it for centuries to the centre of the
city and to the broader landscape of Attica, turning it
into a key point of an important route system; we would
also have a distorted approach if we were to ignore the
various transformations suffered by the buildings of
the sacred complex, in a mutually changing but lively

— 14 —
Alb er to Fer leng a

relationship with the inhabitants of the city. Such a


complex set of relationships can only be perceived
through direct experience; however, this only serves to
refine and not wholly support the actions of those who
wish to intervene in a positive manner in transforma-
tion projects. A sensitivity that has matured through
direct “contact” with beauty must be coupled with the
scientific ability to understand the dynamics that have
governed (and govern) the development of cities and
territories in their most valuable parts. We need theo-
retical tools that can remove the idea of beauty from
the field of subjectivity and read it through explicable
mechanisms and recurring logics. Even in this, the
Venetian school has been and is one of the most im-
portant laboratories in the world. Venice and Iuav are,
after all, a vanguard centre for the preservation and res-

S T U D Y, D E S I G N , C A R E
toration of monuments, especially considering the fact
that Venice — city of the Charter for the Conservation
and Preservation of Monuments and Sites — is, in it-
self, a permanent construction site given the fragility of
its building fabric and the value of its monuments. We
may also add that many cases of reconstruction have
attributed Iuav with competence not only in respect of
material aspects but, above all, of intangible ones. But
what does this imply? We have said that Syria’s tragic
events do not only include the destruction of the city
and architectural heritage: they also include the loss
of the many identities that contributed to the particular
appeal of the country. Therefore, our challenge is that
of acknowledging the fact that reconstruction regards
not only stones but also memories, cultures, and ways
of living. And these needs are made evident not just
through the effects of the war, but they arise whenever
a historically dense site is hit by destructive events of
various kind. The theme is difficult to approach and un-
derstand. In fact, while damages to buildings are easy
to see (and can be resolved with known tested tech-

— 15 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 16 —
— 17 —
Alb er to Fer leng a

S T U D Y, D E S I G N , C A R E
niques), it is much more complex to reconstruct a vast
network of other relationships that crumbles in time,
like walls but less evidently. Intervening in these places
is not only, or predominantly, a technical matter and it
cannot be addressed solely with the tools of engineer-
ing, geology, and economics. Only multiple points of
view and the ability to read deeper under the surface
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

can successfully tackle complex actions of cultural re-


construction.

If ground maintenance implies a monitoring of the un-


derground phenomena that cross it, the same can be
said for what is constructed above it. Cities in fact are
crossed by dynamics that concern not only their most
recent parts (subject to unprecedented phenomena
of urbanisation), but also those areas that apparently
have not changed over time, like historical centres. The
historical part of a city (or monument) can preserve
its appearance in time, but its nature can change pro-
foundly. Most cities that are greatly affected by mass
tourism, like Venice, prove this. It implies a difficult
renewal process of their knowledge and perception,
given that without obvious tangible changes we tend to
consider these situations as unaltered and unaffected.
The historical parts of cities have long been focused
more on the physical state of conservation than on the
state of that system of relationships that each building
and city finds nourishment in. Phenomena like tourism,
mass marketing, and museification have profoundly
changed the cities they are placed in, even though their
physical appearance may seem unaffected by them.
An archaeological centre — lived in all parts of its living
identity by the inhabitants of its region — is different
from a “park” that has been cleansed of any “undue”
presence, that has been isolated from the context that
generated it, and that is open only to hasty tourists.
Even if, apparently, everything remains the same. His-

— 18 —
Alb er to Fer leng a

torical or archaeological parts of cities in Syria were,


before the war, in a state of transition between one and
the other. Palmyra, though partially restored by various
archaeological missions, was still used by Tadmor peo-
ple as a pleasant extension of the modern town; this
is also true for Apamea and even more so for Bosra,
whose ruins are still inhabited. What would happen if
all this were not to be? What if the city of Zenobia were
to be separated from the track that it came from, or
definitely separated from the water and oasis-system
that has kept it alive for centuries? And what if Bosra
was emptied of all its inhabitants living in the ancient
Roman homes, as happened for the Roman cities in
North Africa, and turned into a Middle-Eastern Pompei,
or worse into a theme park? And what if the centre of
Aleppo, once rebuilt, were to encounter the same sad

S T U D Y, D E S I G N , C A R E
fate of Beirut’s fake reconstruction?

If this happened, all of us would lose something grand.


To avoid it, world culture at its best must come into
play. Doing this does not only require means and
knowledge, but also predisposition and preparation to
best interpret a never-before-seen complexity of phe-
nomena. In other words, we need a new culture that
lives off of restoration, urban planning, landscaping,
social sciences, and history, but that also knows how
to mix disciplines and beliefs to unfold a new knowl-
edge and culture, one that is indispensable for the ef-
fectiveness of practical hands-on action.

Today, Iuav — a place of experimentation, at the fore-


front of historical architectural and cultural develop-
ments — can attempt to do this. Because of its special
structure and history, and because of the city in which
it stands, it can offer training courses and research ac-
tivities that are based on an intelligent, wise, and acute
understanding of reality.

— 19 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 20 —
— 21 —
Alb er to Fer leng a

S T U D Y, D E S I G N , C A R E
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 22 —
Benno Alb recht

Urbicid e

B enno Albrecht

Today, we are faced with a slithering Third World — Benno Albrecht


War, or something similar to a global civil war: per- is full professor of
Architectural Design
manent, unconventional, asymmetrical, local and and director of the PhD
mobile, but with major consequences and reverber- School at Università Iuav
di Venezia. He received
ations1. We are witnessing a substantial change in numerous prizes
the form of war, or of perpetual non-peace, which for his projects and
constructed buildings.
sees a progressive increase in the involvement of He also won archi-
civilians, both victims and targets, compared to the tectural competitions
and his designes were
past. The consequence is that, differently from the displayed in exhibitions
past, cities have become the preferred battlefields in Italy and abroad. He
and their destruction, via ground or air, has become has lectured in different
institutions in Europe,
a primary strategic goal. If someone destroys, oth- Indonesia, Argentina,
ers have to rebuild and put back in place; unless Vietnam, China, Japan,

URBICIDE
Colombia, and Peru. He
they give up and simply make room for resignation, is the author of different
as Adorno says: “After the catastrophes that have books on sustain-
ability in architecture,
happened, and in view of the catastrophes to come, such as “Conservare
it would be cynical to say that a plan for a better il futuro”, “Il pensiero
della sostenibilità” in
world is manifested in history and unites it. No uni- architettura and “Africa
versal history leads from savagery to humanitarian- Sustainable Future”.
ism, but there is one leading from the slingshot to With Leonardo Benevolo,
he published “Le origini
the megaton bomb”2. dell’architettura and I
confini del paesaggio
umano”. He was the
One of the pressing topics in the field of civil commit- curator of exhibitions for
ment, and in the operational field of architecture, is La Triennale di Milano,
such as Esportare il
how to deal with the consequences of urbicides, the centro storico, with
deliberate violence against cities, their destruction, Anna Magrin, Africa
Big Change Big Chance,
and the intentional elimination of collective “memory and a section of
made of stone”. Today, war is fought in urban con- L’architettura del mondo,
texts and “urbicide is a form of genocide, the funda- with Alberto Ferlenga
and Marco Biraghi.
mentally illegitimate form of modern war in which a
civilian population as such is targeted for destruc-
tion by armed force”3.

— 23 —
1 — See Marco Ansaldo, We must reflect on the consequences of urbicides,
“Il Papa: La Terza guerra
mondiale è già iniziata”, which even involve countries that are distant from
La Repubblica, 18 Ago the epicentre of the destruction and concern the ac-
2014. Pope Francis de-
clares that “We have en- commodation of survivors and refugees, their return
tered a Third World War; to their country of origin, and the possible recon-
however, it is one that is
fought bit by bit, in small
struction of cities torn by the insanity of man. It is
chapters”. [translated by necessary to think of possible strategies for the reali-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

the author]
sation of refugee camps near the areas affected by
2 — Theodor Adorno, urbicides, and of ways to reconstruct the destroyed
“Negative dialectics”, cities and to necessarily preserve the stone heritage
translated by E.B.
Ashton, The Seabury and memory.
Press, New York, 1973,
pp.319-320.
The term urbicide has resonated4 in sociological
3 — Martin Shaw, “New thinking regarding the city thanks to the American
Wars of the city: Rela-
tionships of ‘Urbicide’, in
philosopher Marshall Berman, who described the ur-
cities, war and terrorism, ban degradation phenomena of South Bronx and its
towards an urban
geopolitics”, edited by
social consequences in 1981: “These stricken people
Stephen Graham, Black- belong to one of the largest shadow communities in
well Publishing, Oxford, the world, victims of a great crime without a name.
2004, p.153.
Let us give it a name now: urbicide, the murder of
3 — “Urbicide” is a term a city”5. The protagonist of this particular rurbicide
that has been used even
in the past. For example: is the Modernism of Robert Moses6, designer of
“not even a humanist The Cross Bronx Expressway; a clear criticism of the
could ignore the 1246
devastation and quasi-
Faustian aspects of modernity.
urbicide in Genoa” [trans-
lated by the author], in
La Società veneta per
It is the traumatic experience of modern war in Europe
imprese e costruzioni — after the dissolution of former Yugoslavia — that re-
pubbliche, 1872-1881, launches the term at a global level. The destruction of
Tipo-litografia A. Roberti,
Bassano,1881, pp.35-36. the Old Bridge of Mostar (Stari Most) on 9 November
Also in “History” of 1993, by part of the Bosnian-Croat forces, is a clear
Scott County, Iowa,
Brookhaven Press, La demonstration of the urbicide phenomenon7, becom-
Crosse,1882, p.316: “The ing a debate topic that finds place among architects
only reason that can be
assigned for this wilful
and architecture magazines8. It is also the prime ex-
attempt at urbicide is ample on which to exercise a reflection on the military
found in the fact that Mr.
Grant’s farm was two
and political significance of the deliberate destruction
miles nearer Rockingham of stone heritage and memory, and on the conscious
than Davenport”. annihilation of every form of urbanism.

— 24 —
Benno Alb recht

“This understanding of the violence faced by cit- 5 — Marshall Berman,


“Roots, ruins, renewals:
ies such as Vukovar, Mostar and Sarajevo became City life after urbicide”,
popular amongst observers of the dissolution of the Village Voice, 4 Sept
1981. Republished in
former Yugoslavia, prompting a rhetorical coding of “Among the ruins new
the violence as a revenge of the countryside upon the internationalist”,178,
December 1987.
city”9. “Destruction of the urban fabric is, therefore,
the destruction of the conditions of the possibility of 6 — Marshall Berman,
heterogeneity”10. It is the evidence of the classic op- “All that is solid melts
into air, the experience
position of radical and civilised, Homeland (Heimat) of modernity”, Verso,
and Metropolis (Grosstadt), Community (Gemein- London-New York, 1982,
footnote 32, p.428.
schaft) and Society (Gesellschaft), the opposition of
the cosmopolitan and democratic but rootless no- 7 — “Mostar’92–Urbicid”
(Mostar: Hrvatsko vijece
mads, and the land-based and traditionally authori- obrane opcine Mostar,
tarian peasants. These oppositions hold an ideologi- 1992), Associazione
Architetti di Mostar,
cal nature of a deep anti-urban feel. “Mostar 92 – Urbicide”,
“Spazio e Società”, n.
As Machiavelli suggests, cities are a centre of free- 62, April-June 1993,
pp.5-25.
dom, therefore in order to hold them and keep them

URBICIDE
under control it is paradoxically necessary to destroy 8 — “Il Ponte Vecchio di
Mostar è stato distrutto”,
them: “The Romans, in order to hold Capua, Carthage, “Spazio e Società”, n. 65,
and Numantia, dismantled them, and did not lose January-March 1994.
pp.62-63. Giancarlo
them. They wished to hold Greece as the Spartans De Carlo, “Per Mostar”,
held it, making it free and permitting its laws, and “Spazio e Società”, n. 77,
January-March 1997.
did not succeed. So to hold it they were compelled pp.6-9.
to dismantle many cities in the country, for in truth
there is no safe way to retain them otherwise than 9 — Xavier Bougarel,
“Yugoslav Wars: The Re-
by ruining them. And he who becomes master of a venge of the countryside
city accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, between sociological
reality and nationalist
may expect to be destroyed by it, for in rebellion it myth”, East European
has always the watchword of liberty and its ancient Quarterly, 33:2 June,
1999, p.157.
privileges as a rallying point, which neither time nor
benefits will ever cause it to forget. And whatever 10 — Martin Coward,
“Urbicide in Bosnia in
you may do or provide against, they never forget that cities, in war and terror-
name or their privileges unless they are disunited ism: Towards an urban
or dispersed, but at every chance they immediately geopolitics”, edited by
Stephen Graham, Black-
rally to them, as Pisa after the hundred years she had well Publishing, Oxford,
been held in bondage by the Florentines”11. 2004, p.166.

— 25 —
11 — Niccolò Machi- Only complete destruction can allow a new exist-
avelli, “The Prince, Chap-
ter V”, translated by W. ence, a new state of things, by preventing evolution
K. Marriott, J. M. Dent, and promoting revolution. The theory of destruction
London, 1948, p.37.
leads to a better world. For the anti-gradualist Sou-
12 — Émile Zola, “Germi- varine, in Émile Zola’s Germinal, any reasoning on fu-
nal”, edited by Raymond
N. MacKenzie, Hackett
turity is criminal because it affects pure and simple
Publishing, Indianapolis, destruction and hinders the path of revolution: “More
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

2011, pp.123-124.
stupidities! repeated Souvarine. Your Karl Marx now,
he still wants to let natural forces take their course,
right? No political upheaval, no conspiracies? Every-
thing done in the light of day, and the whole point is
to get a raise in wages… To hell with your so-called
natural evolution! Set fires to all four corners of the
cities, mow people down, destroy everything, and
when there’s not a damn thing left of this rotten
world, then maybe a better one can start to grow. Éti-
enne broke into a laugh. He didn’t pay any attention
to his comrade’s words, with his theory of wholesale
destruction that struck him as a pose”12.

Today, the practice of a “salvific destruction” of the


past has an iconoclastic matrix and a religious back-
ground in the ideology of Isis/Daesh, and has the
main goal of destroying every expression of pre-Is-
lamic culture. Cities have always been a primary mili-
tary target and in all its history, the city has shaped it-
self according to military needs: walls, fortifications,
and ravelins have determined its outer form. Moder-
nity reflects on the relationship and consequences
between weapons of destruction and urban form.

“Even today the threat of attack from the air de-


mands urban changes. Great cities sprawling open
to the sky, their congested areas at the mercy of
bombs hurtling down out of space, are invitations to
destruction. They are practically indefensible as now
constituted, and it is becoming clear that the best

— 26 —
Benno Alb recht

means of defending them is by the construction, on 13 — Sigfried Giedion,


“Space, time and archi-
the one hand, of great vertical concentrations which tecture. The growth of a
offer a minimum surface to the bomber and, on the new tradition”, Harvard
University Press, Cam-
other hand, by the laying out of extensive, free, open bridge, 1946, p. 543.
spaces”13. Ludwig Hilberseimer writes The New City
14 — Ludwig Hilber-
Principles of Planning in Chicago during World War II; seimer, “The new city
but his thoughts are also later taken up in the trou- principles o planning”,
bled world threatened by the Cold War14. He means introduction by Mies
Van Der Rohe, Paul
to demonstrate that decentralisation, cornerstone Theobald, Chicago,
of reformist urbanism, is also functional in case of 1944.

global war and atomic attacks. Smaller spaced out 15 — Ludwig Hilber-
communities, designed with attention to wind direc- seimer, “The nature of
cities: origin, growth,
tion, are less vulnerable to nuclear attacks and radio- and decline, pattern and
active fallouts15. form, planning prob-
lems”, Paul Theobaled &
Co, Chicago, 1955. See
Even natural disasters falling upon cities are, in some also Hilberseimer, “Cities
form, due to man’s ill behaviour. The debate that took and defense”, repub-
lished in Richard Pom-
place after the great earthquake in Lisbon, on 1 Novem-

URBICIDE
mer, David Spaeth and
ber (All Saints’ Day) 1755, saw Jean-Jacques Rous- Kevin Harrington, “In the
shadow of Mies: Ludwig
seau respond to Voltaire as follows: “Without leaving Hilberseimer: architect,
your Lisbon subject, concede, for example, that it was educator and urban plan-
ner”; with reminiscences
hardly nature who assembled there twenty-thousand by George E. Danforth
houses of six or seven stories. If the residents of this and selected writings of
Ludwig Hilberseimer, The
large city had been more evenly dispersed and less Art Institute of Chicago,
densely housed, the losses would have been fewer or Chicago; Rizzoli Interna-
perhaps none at all”16. Nature is not the one to blame. tional Publications, New
York, 1988.
It is Man who does not understand it, and does not
understand that living spread-out is more appropriate, 16 — Letter by Rousseau
to Voltaire on the Lisbon
and safer. The adequacy of living in this world is, in the disaster, 18 August 1756.
end, a responsibility of Man. J.A. Leigh, ed., “Cor-
respondence complète de
Jean Jacques Rousseau”,
Twentieth-century art is not only characterised by the translated by R. Spang,
Edition Garnier Freres,
avant-garde cult of the tabula rasa, by the aesthetics Geneva, 1967, pp.37-38.
of destruction — what Majakovsky called “nothing-
ness” (“I write nihil on anything done before”17) — or 17 — Renato Pog-
gioli, “Teoria dell’arte
by the Vorticist vision of Wyndham Lewis and of the d’avanguardia”, Il Mulino,
BLAST group. Bologna, 1962, p.77.

— 27 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 28 —
Benno Alb recht

URBICIDE

— 29 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 30 —
Benno Alb recht

URBICIDE

— 31 —
18 — Jaume Freixa, “Jo- Twentieth-century art presents a clear great icon that
sep Lluìs Sert”, Gustavo
Gili, Barcelona, 1979. is directly linked to a specific urbicide, to a promise
Josep M. Rovina, “José of redemption and reconstruction: Pablo Picasso’s
Luis Sert (1901-1983)”,
Mondadori Electa, Guernica is an integral part, along with Alexander Cal-
Milano, 2000. der’s Mercury fountain, of the Spain Pavilion designed
19 — Jose Luìs Sert,
by Josep Lluís Sert18 at the 1937 Paris exhibition. In
“Can our cities survive? his 1942 book, Can our Cities Survive19, Sert shows
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

An ABC of urban
problems, their analysis,
the modern possibilities of post-war reconstruction.
their solutions; based Reconstruction has actors that are all protagonists
on the proposals of Twentieth-century architecture and urban design,
formulated by the
CIAM”, Harvard Univer- from Corbusier to Perret, from Abercrombie to Gor-
sity Press, Cambridge; don Cullen, from Uzo Nishiyama to Kenzo Tange,
Oxford University Press,
London, 1942. from Rudolf Schwarz to Hans Scharoun, or the Italian
Piero Gazzola and Luigi Lorenzo Secchi.
20 — Lewis Mumford,
“The social foundations
of post-war building”. Lewis Mumford then expands the concept of recon-
Rebuilding Britain
series, No. 9, Faber and
struction: “In our anticipations of post-war planning
Faber, London, 1943 perhaps the most important thing to remember is
and in Lewis Mumford, that our task is not the simple one of rebuilding de-
“The condition of Man”,
Harcourt, Brace & Co., molished houses and ruined cities. If only the mate-
New York, 1944. [Italics rial shell of our society needed repair, our designs
in original]
might follow familiar patterns. But the fact is our
21 — Marc Augé, task is a far heavier one; it is of replacing an outworn
“Rovine e macerie. Il
senso del tempo”, Bol-
civilization. The question is not how much of the su-
lati Boringhieri, Torino, perstructure should be replaced, but how much the
2004, p.137. [translated
by the author]
foundations can be used for a new set of purposes
and for a radically different mode of life”20.

It is clear that the reconstruction/preservation of the


past brings with it a spirit of renewed propulsion, and
that “On the ruins resulting from the clashes that in-
evitably [future history] will see rise, countless con-
struction sites will open and, alongside their side,
will also open the possibility of building something
else that will find and make sense of time”21. The
updated reprise of the debate on how and what to
rebuild is, today, much needed. It has to deal with the

— 32 —
Benno Alb recht

preservation of stone heritage and memories and the 22 — Jan Assmann,


“Cultural memory and
value of diversity, in fact “The past itself is preserved early civilization: Writ-
by it, and thus it is continually subject to processes ing, remembrance, and
political imagination”,
of reorganisation according to the changes taking Cambridge University
place in the frame of reference of each successive Press, Cambridge, 2011,
p.27.
present. Even that which is new can only appear in
the form of constructed past, in the sense that tradi- 23 — Jorge Luis Borges,
tions can only be exchanged with traditions, the past “Nueva antología
personal”, Siglo XXI
with the past”22. Editores, Buenos Aires,
1968, p.41.

The need for an operational revision of the notion of 24 — Marc Augé, “Rovine
intergenerational heritage, historical memory, and e macerie. Il senso del
tempo”, op.cit., p.135.
remembrance, is evident and necessary because in
the end, as Borges remembers: “Sólo una cosa no
hay. Es el olvido”23. The relationship that ruins have
with time is different from the relationship they have
with man: “The rubble accumulated by recent histo-
ry and the ruins created from the past do not resem-

URBICIDE
ble each another. There is a big difference between
the historical time of destruction, which reveals the
folly of history (the streets of Kabul or Beirut), and
pure time, time in ruin, the ruins of a time that has
lost history and that history has lost”24.

Today, we know that reconstruction (of what has


been destroyed) and refugee camps (where people
stranded by urbicides are welcomed) are opposite
realities. However, they are strongly linked because
they concern the same people and the same inhabit-
ants, only that they are staggered in different times
and places. Millions of people live in refugee camps,
hoping to leave them as soon as possible. They are
people who are fleeing from historic cities that are
under attack and in war. Everyone expects to return
to their homes after the conflict, only to find ruins and
memories of a rich past and of their previous lives,
demolished, deleted, and nullified.

— 33 —
25 — Edward S. Casey, “Everywhere we turn we find places at issue with the
“Getting back into place:
Toward a renewed alienation and violence from which human beings
understanding of the have suffered so devastatingly in modern times. More
place-world”, Indiana
University Press, Bloom- often than we realise, the alienation is from (a given)
ington, 1993, p.xiv. place and the violence has been done to (some) place,
26 — Walter Firey, “Land
and not only to people in places. If it distinctively post-
use in central Boston”, modern to wish to return to place; this is so even if the
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Harvard University
Press, Cambridge, 1947,
most promising patterns for the return are often of a
p.324. distinctively premodern inspiration”25.
27 — Fred Charles
Iklé, “The effect of war Reality shows us that thousands of people are no
destruction upon the longer able to return to their hometowns because
ecology of cities”, Social
Forces, Vol. 29, No. 4, they have been destroyed and demolished. Conse-
May 1951, p.390. quently (and oppositely), many refugee camps be-
28 — Ibidem p.391.
come permanent and tend to resemble new cities.
This huge contradiction between historical heritage,
broken memories of destroyed cities, and refugee
camps (temporary cities under precarious conditions
and without citizenship rights), presents the whole
sequence of tragedies based on urbicides.

Fred Charles Iklé, the greatest expert in consequences


of war destruction, wrote that Walter Firey pointed out
that “the cultural component is central in locational
processes. Only in terms of this component can we
fully understand why land is put to the uses to which
it is”26. This “cultural component” may manifest itself
in the resettlement of a destroyed area and lead to the
re-establishment of basically the same ecological pat-
tern as before the destruction27. He then continues:
“Permanent population dispersal from large cities and
suburbs into small towns or villages would involve a
change of habits-a change of the urban way of life,
which only a few people are willing to undergo”28.

Addressing this state of affairs with the tools of ar-


chitecture is one of the challenges of contemporane-

— 34 —
Benno Alb recht

ity. One needs to see if there is a defence line, a “hu- 29 — Isaiah 61:4-5.

manist” answer to oppose destruction and oblivion: 30 — Victor Branford,


“They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities Patrick Geddes, “The
coming polity: a study
destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though in reconstruction”,
they have been devastated for many generations”29. Williams & Norgate,
London, 1917, p.215.

A humanistic defence line could be set up by militant 31 — Ibidem p.217.


universities. For Geddes, universities should be free
to devote themselves to battles of ideas, and engage
in the production of thoughts of practical, civic, and
public utility. He published eight volumes on post-
war reconstruction, which should have become a ref-
erence for any discussion on war and peace. One of
the topics of these discussions was the re-creation
of the university as a place for the research and de-
velopment of its militant potential, in order to define
a “Federation of Cities” that could become a junc-
tion-system of local autonomous realities. For this

URBICIDE
reason, for Geddes, viewing the future (“foresight”)
was an important goal for a militant university: “The
university, if it is to be truly militant, must be affirma-
tive, selective, predictive. It must submit its doctrines
to the test, and not only of reasoned criticism but of
creative adventure in the practical world”30.

Strategies of reconstruction can become the fo-


cus point of a renewed interest: “Re-construction.
Re-education, Re-newal — are not these to be the
watchwords of coming statesmanship, a policy of
the three R’s, a new style!”31.

The concept of reconstruction is vast and demand-


ing for Geddes: “How should the coming militant uni-
versity orient itself towards the changes in our social
structure, needed in more than the obvious areas of
reconstruction after war? It must appeal to all ages
to re-educate themselves. It will appeal to all to par-

— 35 —
32 — Ibidem p.218. ticipate in the remaking of homes and villages, cities
33 — Ibidem pp.18-19. and countries devastated by the war, or dilapidated
from earlier causes: towards the re-education of in-
34 — Patrick Geddes
and Gilbert Slater, “Ideas dividuals, the reconstruction of places, and the re-
at war”, Williams & newal of social life, the militant university must give
Norgate, London, 1917,
pp.59-60.
its help; and this alike in social studies and social
action. And these, as far as may be, together”32.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

35 — Ibidem p.168.

36 — Immanuel Kant, Obviously, the role of historical heritage is a main


“Perpetual peace: A subject in the matter of reconstruction policies:
philosophical sketch”,
bey Friedrich Nicolovius, “We, of the present generation, are at a parting of
Königsberg, 1795. ways. The sharper we can outline the past in the
present, the clearer may we discern the image of
the future. For the future is not disconnected from
the past, but is a continuous with it. By selection
and recombination of past tendencies surviving
into the present, we shape the future. Hence, the
first requisite of foresight are true and clear ideas
about the past. Our opening chapters, accordingly,
are mainly historical”33.

“l of social life”34. All’università la possibilità di realiz-


zare una nuova scienza, “With that experience there
is also the possible beginning of what we may call
the science and art of reconstruction”35.

The great research field of “globalisation as spatial-


ity” was opened by immense disasters, and it con-
cerned the possibility of building civitas gentium (the
state of peoples36) based on cosmopolitan solidarity
and global proximity, on planetary sharing, and on
global mutuality.

We know that art and aesthetic feelings outweigh


good and bad, and that “historical justice” — the con-
sideration of a possible “constructive destruction”, of
a historical thought transformed into art, into a crea-

— 36 —
Benno Alb recht

tion that looks to the future — is what Nietzsche de- 37 — Friedrich


Nietzsche, “The use
scribes as: “Thus, history is to be written by the man and abuse of history”,
of experience and character. He who has not lived Cosimo Inc., New York,
2010, p.41.
through something greater and nobler than others,
will not be able to explain anything great and noble in
the past. The language of the past is always oracular:
you will only understand it as architects of the future
who know the present. We can only explain the ex-
traordinarily wide influence of Delphi by the fact that
the Delphic priests had an exact knowledge of the
past: and, similarly, only he who is building up the
future has a right to judge the past”37.

URBICIDE

— 37 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 38 —
Benno Alb recht

URBICIDE

— 39 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 40 —
Jacop o Galli

W.A.Ve. 2017:
exercises in humanistic resistance

Jacopo Galli

In 1667, Nicolas Sanson published a conceptual map — Jacopo Galli (Crema,


in his Geographie Ancienne et Nouvelle ou Methode 1985), studied archi-
tecture at Università
pour s’Instruire Avec facilite de la Geographie, et Con- degli Studi di Parma, and
noistre des Empires, Monarchies, Royaumes, Estats, Sustainable Architecture
at Università Iuav di
Republiques, et Peuples1: starting from the word Venezia. After spending
“Syria”, this map identified all the territories that in one year working at
Palerm&Tabares de
previous centuries had been defined by this name at

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


Nava in Santa Cruz de
least once. The semiotic map outlined the unstable Tenerife, he obtained a
PhD from Università Iuav
and blurry boundaries of a large part of the world: di Venezia with a disser-
from Greece to Iran, from Sinai to Afghanistan, from tation entitled Tropical
Kuwait to the Caucasus. Syria is and has been an Toolbox – Fry&Drew and
the search for an African
all-encompassing term, capable of simultaneously modernity, with prof.
indicating territories inhabited by radically different Benno Albrecht as thesis
advisor. He has been
peoples and cultures: Syria is a concept before being part of the curatorial
a place. An immediately identifiable term described team of many exhibitions
(L’Architettura del Mondo
an entire world in its infinite complexity, through a – Triennale di Milano,
simplification process that allowed a mental control Africa Big Change – Big
Chance – Triennale di
before a physical one. Milano / CIVA La Cambre
Bruxelles, Esportare
In the centuries following Sanson’s description, il Centro Storico –
Triennale Xtra Brescia,
economic and political resolutions, often outside Il Belpaese – Triennale
the area of interest, progressively outlined physical di Milano), and was the
project manager for the
boundaries to complex cultural and historical phe- Makoko Floating School
nomena. The impulse to build political, ideological, Pavilion of NLE, which
was was awarded the
and administrative fences, however, has not devel- Silver Lion at the 2016 La
oped a progressive cultural simplification or homog- Biennale di Venezia. In
2017, he was the curator
enisation as a counterpart. Spreading the situation of the Sketch for Syria
in various state realities did not allow one specific initiative in collaboration
identity to emerge over the others; nor did it allow with UN ESCWA, with
final presentation events
for one or more shared post-ethnic identities to rise. in Venice and Beirut.
Modern Syria jealously guards the ancestral remem-
brance of a vast territory that voluntarily escapes any

— 41 —
1 — Guillaume Sanson, definition. A place where Sunni and Shiite Muslims,
“Cartes et Tables de la
Geographie Ancienne Alawites, Kurds, Drussians, Ismaelites, Duodeci-
et Nouvelle ou Methode mans, Turkmens, Circassians, Greeks, Yarmouk Ba-
pour s’Instruire Avec fa-
cilite de la Geographie, et sin blacks, Orthodox Christians, Maronites, Catholics
Connoistre des Empires, of Syrian rites, Syriacs, Armenians, Romans, Yazids,
Monarchies, Royaumes,
Estats, Republiques, et
and Jews have lived (and live) in a polychrome mo-
Peuples”, Chez l’Autheur, saic, in a balance without conflict2.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Paris, 1697.

2 — Mirella Galletti, “Sto- If the world once was Syria, today it is Syria that is
ria della Siria contempo- the world: in a war that is consumed within the narrow
ranea. Popoli, istituzioni
e cultura”, Bompiani, boundaries of Skyes-Picot, but that reverberates on a
Milano, 2006. planetary scale. The Syrian conflict, local degenera-
3 — Stephen Graham, tion of the Arab Springs, is the first cosmopolitan war:
“Cities under siege, the the first low-intensity, mobile, permanent, unconven-
new military urbanism”,
Verso, London-New
tional, and timeless conflict. A war that is fought on a
York, 2010. large scale and which sees national and transnational
4 — Thomas Hippler,
armies and coalitions, terrorist groups, armed groups,
“Governing from the guerrilla formations, and ethnic, religious, political,
Sky, A global History of and ideological militias as contingent realities3: actors
Aerial Bombing”, Verso,
London-New York, 2014. that associate and dissociate themselves depending
on their immediate interests, on the global geopolitical
5 — Rupert Smith, The
Utility of Force, the Art situation and various ideological nuances, simultane-
of War in the Modern ously fighting on several fronts according to strategic
World, Allen Lane,
London, 2005.
factors of momentary interest. In this perspective,
weapons and battlefields undergo a process of radical
cosmopolitanisation4. New technological weapons,
new forms of local or global terrorism, online indoctri-
nations, regional and continental migratory processes,
media management and “spectacularisation” of terror,
manipulation of risk perception, and attempts to influ-
ence leaders and electoral bodies have all been added
to the remains of the industrial warfare (open-field bat-
tles and air bombardments).

This new paradigm is defined as “war amongst the


people”5: a struggle that is fought less and less on
traditional battlegrounds, and increasingly more in

— 42 —
Jacop o Galli

places and forms that make it impossible to imme- 6 — Sarah Sewell,


“Introduction in The
diately identify the expected results of each partic- U.S. Army/Marine Corps
ipant. It is not a Volkskrieg (the war of the people Counterinsurgency field
manual”, University of
theorised by Carl Von Clausewitz as a response to Chicago Press, Chicago,
massive foreign invasion); not a heroic confrontation 2007.
in which the people, as a single body, become a bel- 7 — Andrew Bacevich,
ligerent force. It is a war that is essentially fought “Social Work with Guns”,
in the midst of the people and using the people as London Review of Books,
v. 13 n. 24, 2009, pp. 7-8.
a weapon. Sarah Sewell, author of the counterinsur-
gency manual for the US Army, describes the new 8 — Ulrich Beck,
“Cosmopolitan Society
soldier as a social worker, an urbanist, an anthropolo- and Its Enemies”, Theory,
gist, and a psychologist6, “rather than a giant com- Culture and Society 19,

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


2002, pp. 1-2.
puter game, modern wars turned out to be more like
social work with guns”7. The contemporary soldier 9 — Slavoj Zizek, “Terror-
ists with a human face”,
has become the main protagonist of military urban- in “The final countdown:
ism, abandoning any solution of continuity between Europe, refugees and
war and reconstruction that respond to the same the left”, ed. Jela
Kecic, IRWIN-Wiener
economic, political, and social logic. Festwochen, Ljubljana-
Vienna, 2017.

The conscious transformation of battlefields into


actual war-sets represents the backdrop to military
urbanism. These wars are fought with new weapons
and new ends, leading to the large-scale physical
concretisation of the Risk Society described by Ulrich
Beck8: a world in which uncontrollable risks are not
increased, but have escaped every spatial, temporal,
and social boundary. In this situation of permanent
risk, the traditional forms of territorial governance
— which have historically been committed in guaran-
teeing the security of citizens through their monopo-
ly on violence — are becoming increasingly helpless.
The overwhelming incapacity of modern forms of
national government to adapt to the process of cos-
mopolitanisation risks triggering authoritarian leads,
progressive closures, and opposing extremisms9.
The global abandonment of the Syrian population to
their fate of puppet in the hands of external forces

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Jacop o Galli

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


10 — Manuel Castells, is likely to be dragged on from the war to the future
Gustavo Cardoso, “The
network society from reconstruction process.
knowledge to policy”,
Johns Hopkins Center
for Transatlantic Rela- W.A.Ve. 2017 – Syria: The Making of the Future
tions, Washington DC, comes from an opposite approach: a call to make
2005.
the reconstruction of Syria a physical demonstra-
11 — David Held, tion of how a knowledge society10 can now deliver
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Anthony McGrew,
“Governing globalization:
new useful solutions for a small planet inhabited by
power, authority and “overlapping communities of fate”11. A cosmopolitan
global governance”, John experiment in democracy were problems of a spe-
Wiley & Sons, New York,
2002. cific area of the globe are studied and addressed by
groups of designers and students with radically dif-
12 — Ulrich Beck, “La
società cosmopolita. ferent life and work experiences. Only a small part
Prospettive dell’epoca of the groups selected by Università Iuav di Venezia
postnazionale”, Il Mulino,
Bologna, 2003. [trans-
to participate in the workshop is from the vast area
lated by the author] involved in the conflict or have had direct experience
in reconstruction processes: most of them only bring
their own work experiences to the Venetian round
table. The logic behind the choice of the working
groups was to find small signs of hope (however
fragmentary and geographically distant), disjointed
and seemingly insignificant projects, but that could
be able to propose original views on the reconstruc-
tion process within the W.A.Ve. 2017 - Syria the Mak-
ing of the Future experience. A choice that sees in
the sum of localisms an instance where “contextual
and cosmopolitan experiences, traditions, and plac-
es come together, come apart, connect, and detach;
a place where you can focus a cosmopolitan vison
able of understanding that, in a world of crisis and
danger, […] a new cosmopolitan realism becomes es-
sential to survive”12. Researching multiple points of
view was a first preparatory step of the workshop,
firmly believing in hybrid plurality as a comparison
value. The organisation opened a dialogue with 26
teaching groups, 8 Syrian tutors, and 15 experts, all
invited to conferences in order to propose a unique

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Jacop o Galli

educational and cultural experience to the 1.341 stu- 13 — Ibidem.

dents participating from 26 countries. W.A.Ve. 2017 14 — Patrick Geddes and


- Syria the Making of the Future was an experiment in Victor Branford, “The
making of the future: a
universal differences, a place where “the babylonic manifesto and a project”,
heart of world society beats in the gallimaufry of lan- Sherratt & Hughes,
London, 1917.
guage and identity”13.
15 — Volker M. Welter,
W.A.Ve. 2017 - Syria the Making of the Future. From “Biopolis: Patrick Geddes
and the city of life”,
Urbicide to the Architecture of the City: the title of MIT Press, Cambridge-
the workshop holds a series of cultural references London, 2002.

that, together with the discussions that led to the 16 — Aldo Rossi,
Venice Charter on Reconstruction, were the starting “L’architettura della città”,

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


Marsilio, Padova, 1966.
point of the preparatory phase before the inaugura-
tion. The Making of the Future takes from the title of
the pamphlet The Making of the Future: A Manifesto
and a Project published by Patrick Geddes in 1917.
Here, the biologist, sociologist, and urbanist looked
at the end of World War I as a horizon beyond which
to imagine a new society; one that was characterised
by a holistic development in which “art and industry,
education and health, morals and business must ad-
vance in unison”14. Geddes not only imagined a future
beyond the world conflict, but found that international
civics were the best tool to ensure lasting peace and
stability beyond the limits of the nation-state. Civility
is grouped together with humanism and regionalism,
the three elements for a doctrine of reconstruction,
offering not only a mending of areas affected by con-
flict, but also including the conservation and renewal
of historic centres and industrial suburbs in the gen-
eral field of intervention15.

The subtitle — From Urbicide to the Architecture of


the City — sets the two extremes of the complex pro-
cess that Università Iuav di Venezia has dedicated
itself to: Urbicide, the premeditated and deliberate
murder of the city, and The Architecture of the City by

— 47 —
16 — Aldo Rossi, Aldo Rossi, the book the illustrates “the complexity
“L’architettura della città”,
Marsilio, Padova, 1966. of urban culture made up of old traditions and living
feelings as well as unresolved aspirations”16.
17 — Marshall Bermann,
“All that is solid melts
into air, the experience “From ancient times to today, the experience of see-
of modernity”, Simon
& Schuster, New York,
ing your city in ruins is one of the dreadful primal
1982. scenes: this is urbicide”17. Marshall Bermann uses
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

18 — Dag Tuastad,
the term coined by science-fiction author Michael
“Neo-Orientalism and the Moorcock to criticise the modernisation process in
new barbarism thesis: the metropolitan area of New York that was led by
Aspects of symbolic vio-
lence in the Middle East Robert Moses in the 1960s. Urbicide as a condition
conflict(s)”, Third World of modernity; an experience that is rooted in ances-
Quarterly, 24:4, 2003.
tral urban culture, re-emerging in the contemporary
19 — Eyal Weizman, world thanks to disturbing technological and politi-
“The least of all pos-
sible evils humanitarian
cal developments. But if the destruction of inhabited
violence from Arendt centres was once given by the outbreak of barbaric
to Gaza”, Verso Books,
London, 2011.
assailants who saw the city as a loot of war, urbi-
cide today has become an act that is committed in
20 — Lam 1:1. the name of modernity. It is committed in order to
deny the cultural roots of the “other”, and affirm a
narrative that sees military urbanism as the last
frontier to stem a mass of new barbarians: primitive,
uncivilised, irrational, lazy, pathologic, and deviant.
In one word: anti-modern18. Today, the military inter-
prets urban environments as complex social fields,
saturated with pre-existing conflicts, and it uses the
welfare of the population as a military calculation
factor, making it possible for a utilitarian use of civil-
ian welfare as a weapon19. Barbarians, by now urban-
ised in a relentless global process, can be brought
back to civilisation only through a cathartic destruc-
tion that makes it possible to imagine and build a
new city, free from the weight of history; a city that is
silent and assimilated to pure economic logic, inca-
pable of expressing the vibrant vitality of its histori-
cal inhabitants: “how lonely sits the city that was full
of people”20.

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Jacop o Galli

Looking at a map of the destructions in the city of Alep- 21 — Yasser


Elsheshtawy, “Dubai:
po — where areas affected by bombings overlap almost Behind an urban specta-
perfectly with historic or informal settlements —, it is cle”, Routledge, London,
2010.
already possible to foresee the speculative process to
come. Therefore, it becomes essential to re-propose 22 — Ralph Waldo
Emerson, “The journals
The Architecture of the City as an antidote to a modern- and miscellaneous note-
ising homologation, to a “dubaisation” on a planetary books of Ralph Waldo
scale21. The book would become a beacon of a cultural Emerson”, edited by
Ralph Orth, Alfred Fergu-
and design proposal that sees the present form of the son, Harvard University
city as a solid foundation for the construction and re- Press, Cambridge-Lon-
don, 1977.
construction of future ones. Cities that are summaries
of all the features of their urban reality, including their 23 — Mary Ann Caws,

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


“City images: Perspec-
origins, because “the city lives by remembering”22 but tives from literature,
also “dies by forgetting”23. philosophy, and film,
OPA, Amsterdam, 1991.
It is a complex investigation — that moves between
studies of geographers, anthropologists, economists, 24 — Aldo Rossi,
and historians — but it is strongly oriented toward the “L’architettura della
città”, Marsilio, Padova,
study of urban and architecture forms, understand- 1966.
ing how urban planning is the only instrument that
25 — Lewis Mumford,
makes the city intelligible in its unstable and chang- “The city in history”, Har-
ing balance. The reconstruction process proposed court, Brace and World,
New York, 1961.
for Syria within W.A.Ve. 2017 – Syria the Making of
the Future comes from these same assumptions, and
calls for experts in radically different fields to gather
together with the clear intention of building a foun-
dation of knowledge to service the architecture pro-
ject. Only through a project of the urban space does
it become possible to re-establish “architecture in a
positive and pragmatic sense, as a creation that is
inseparable from civilized life and from the society in
which it is manifested. By nature, it is collective”24 in
Syrian cities; and only through a project of the urban
space does it become possible to return the funda-
mental value of “places designed to offer the widest
facilities for significant conversation”25 to inhabited
centres. We will fight destroyers, whether ignorant
barbarians or frigid technocrats, with the instru-

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W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


26 — Ibidem. ment of “design”, rediscovering the role of the city
27 — Abdulaziz Hal- as an antidote to violence: a place where diversity
laj, “Geographies of is developed and opposing tensions are tolerated, it
Absence: Radicalization
and the shaping of the possible to translate conflicts into dialectics. Cities
new Syrian territoriality,” are places “that depress material wars and promote
New England Journal of
Public Policy, 29:1, 2017.
mental ones”26.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

The workshop opened with an inaugural lesson held


by Abdulaziz Hallaj, senior coordinator of Syria Pro-
ject at the Common Space Initiative in Beirut. Hallaj il-
lustrated the new Syrian geography — outlined by the
battles between the many contrasting factions — as
a space of radicalisation, contesting the unrealistic
possibility of an ethnic division that would deny the
cultural stratification that has always characterised
the country. Conversely, the reconstruction of Syria
as a place to exercise coexistence becomes possible
only through an approach from the bottom up, capable
of generating open systems that are adaptable to the
different cultural and spatial characteristics of each
urban centre27. This attitude is diametrically opposite
to the operational logic of many conflicting factions,
which have carefully planned and transformed pieces
of the city in tabulae rasae. Here, through a concep-
tual approach that seamlessly bonds destruction and
reconstruction, these factions intend to impose an
unsubstantiated masterplan. The transformation of
the conflict into a permanent war, in the logic of mili-
tary urbanism in which reconstruction also becomes
a weapon of ethnic and sectarian division, is a risk
that is avoidable only through the reconstruction of a
culture of coexistence.

Ricardo Carvalho, working on one of the main tabulae


rasae in the country (the small village of Kobane, on
the border with Turkey), proposed an aqueduct as a
system to trigger and support the process of recon-

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Jacop o Galli

struction. The idea of sustainable resource sharing 28 — Alexander Langer,


“Dieci punti per la
as an exercise for peaceful coexistence was then convivenza,” Il segno, 27
carried out by João Ventura Trindade, whom identi- marzo 1995. Alexander
Langer and the art
fied specific areas in the town of Shahba to be used of living together, 27
as initiators of virtuous mechanisms. In this case, March 1995, on <www.
alexanderlanger.org/
the extraordinary architectural artefacts and the par- it/950/3159/print>
ticular orographic conditions became occasions for
timely interventions that can preserve history and act
as catalysts of future developments. Ammar Kham-
mash worked on the city of Hama, a place that, thanks
to its 17 hydraulic norias, holds the memory of the
tiring anthropisation process of the vast area of the

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


Fertile Crescent. The norias inspired the opportunity
to imagine Hama as the new technological and sci-
entific capital of the Arab world, through experiments
that found expression in unexpected fields like mu-
sic, geology, sociology, or cuisine. Felipe Assadi pro-
posed a concrete utopian project of a modern wall to
hold the village of Al-Bawabiya, made from buildings
dedicated to children, the demographic group that is
most affected by the conflict. Aldo Aymonino instead
searched for archetypal forms of Arab architecture
to help reinvent the Damascene suburb of Darayya,
starting from a complete redeployment of the ground
attack by maximising the porosity of the urban fabric
that was severely damaged by the conflict.

Researching a role for the architect and architecture


emerged as one of the central themes of the entire
W.A.Ve. 2017 – Syria the Making of the Future work-
shop. As a margin to the fratricidal ethnic war in
the Balkans, Alexander Langer dedicates one of his
ten points in The art of living together to the “impor-
tance of mediators, bridge builders, wall jumpers
and frontier explorers”28. In this role, the architect
becomes a builder of coexistence: not necessarily
through the direct form of the design project, but

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29 — Ibidem. through the processes he uses to achieve these
30 — Kwame Anthony forms. Coexistence can only be achieved through
Appiah, “Cosmopolit- the construction of cities and spaces that are ca-
ism ethics in a world of
strangers”, W. W. Norton pable of maximising the knowledge of the “other”,
& Company, New York, opening positive dialogues and shared narratives
2006.
because “the more we have to do one with the other,
31 — Salman Rushdie, the better we will understand each other”29. Spaces
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

“Imaginary homelands:
Essay and criticism,
of coexistence, which have been denied to Syrian
1991-1981”, Granta cities for too long, do not require the imperative
Books, London, 1991. search for shared values: they only require places
32 — Antonio Negri, where it is possible to start conversations that lead
“Michael Hardt, Empire”, to the establishment of a common practice of co-
Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, 2000. existence30. A necessarily hybrid practice that cel-
ebrates “impurity, intermingling, the transformation
33 — Ibidem.
that comes from new and unexpected combinations
of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies,
songs. It rejoices in mongrelisation and fears the
absolutism of the Pure”31.

Kilian Kleinschmidt, for a long-time director of the


Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and now director of
the IPA-Innovation and Planning Agency, presented
an innovative view of the refugee camps as cities of
the future. According to Kleinschmidt, the process of
building a city begins by giving refugees back their dig-
nity as active members of a society; and by thinking
of refugee camps not as places that guarantee every
inhabitant 80 litres of water and 2,100 kcal a day, but
as cities-in-the-making, embryos of a future urban
culture. When questioning migrants’ iron will of re-
turning to their places of origin and the possibility
of stemming global movements32, it is necessary
to reconsider migrants as actors who simultane-
ously produce and resist globalisation33, and aban-
don the perennial state of emergency to embrace
the quest for dignity through new economic and
political possibilities.

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Jacop o Galli

The transition from emergency to a (different) normal-


ity was the central theme developed by VMX Architects
in their workshop. A peculiar simulation exercise (in
which each student was asked to choose which items
to rescue during an emergency) became the starting
point for a series of urban projects that put the indi-
vidual, with his weaknesses and fears, at the centre of
the debate. For Plan Collectif, emergency is resolved
through public dialogue and confrontation between dif-
ferent backgrounds, aware of the fact that a too rapid
reconstruction will always be unsatisfactory and that,
while waiting for peace, the task of architects is that of

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


accumulating and settling ideas and experiences. Ciro
Pirondi worked on the neighbourhood of Jaramana in
Damascus. Its continuous waves of refugees (Palestin-
ians in the 1970s, Iraqis at the beginning of the century,
and Syrians today) physically prove the permanent state
of emergency of numerous areas in the world, scar tis-
sues of the urban fabric. The idea was that of develop-
ing the issue through a redesign process that re-read
the contradictions of the city, seeking to restore urban
homogeneity, environmental sustainability, and social
equity in the neighbourhood. TAMassociati dealt with
the destruction of Qaboun, proposing a non-ideological
process of synthesis between Arab urban tradition and
material innovation, with the idea that emergency is
fought by ethical decisions before aesthetic ones. The
challenge was to build density, not only in space but
also, and above all, in meanings and interactions. The
search for a renewed social cohesion, starting from an
assessment of the state of emergency, was also the
focus of Solano Benitez’s work. Here, the constructive
and technological process inspired the opportunity
to renew the community spirit. Building together, in a
group, exploring complexities and overcoming obsta-
cles, becomes the research of that simple wisdom that
can resolve conflicts.

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W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


34 — Michel Agier, “Man- Emergency as a custom state of affairs is not resolved
aging the undesirables
refugee camps and hu- in the “waiting rooms on the margins of the world”34
manitarian government”, (where NGOs operate as low-cost managers of plan-
Polity Press, Cambridge,
2011. etary exclusion) as much as by designing a possibil-
ity of choices for populations and moving individuals.
35 — UNESCO, “Conven-
tion concerning the
The exclusion of refugees from any political practice
protection of the world and from every right and duty linked to citizenship
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

cultural and natural


heritage”, UNESCO, Paris,
(which transform refugee camps into positivist micro-
1972. dictatorships), can be resolved with new management
models of the same refugee camps, but also and more
36 — Manar Hammad,
“Bel/Palmyra Hom- importantly with models that are alternative to camps.
mage”, Guaraldi, Rimini, The idea that refugees can choose which borders to
2016. [translated by the
author] cross, when and where to return, and how to build or
reconstruct places to live in, can only take place in a
vision that denies spaces of total control.

Manar Hammad, Syrian archaeologist and semiolo-


gist, introduced the central theme of cultural heritage
destroyed during the conflict. He proposed an inter-
pretation that allows to better understand (and con-
textualise in a complex framework) the deliberate de-
struction carried out by the various parties involved.
This is a conceptual passage that, from UNESCO’s
simplification of the “world heritage of mankind”35,
aims to understand the value that each actor places
in a destroyed object as an intermediate instance
between two subjects. Only this interpretation effort
can reveal the value of material and immaterial de-
struction, and help us calibrate possible reconstruc-
tion strategies. Because all people have the right
to choose their ancestors, but especially to choose
their heritage36; a delicate but necessary operation at
a time when war and reconstruction risk permanent
cancellations or dangerous rewritings.

The theme of heritage, of its documental value of the


past, and creative value with respect to the future,

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Jacop o Galli

has been one of the central points that were dis-


cussed during the workshops of W.A.Ve. 2017 – Syria
the Making of the Future. UNLAB worked on the con-
flicting heritage of the city of Aleppo, trying to bring
out narratives (sometimes contradictory) that came
from different areas of the city, and transforming
them into social housing projects to re-invent person-
al and community spaces. Roberta Albiero proposed
a reconstruction project for the area of Palmyra
where physical infrastructures were accompanied
by temporal steps that allowed for a slow process
of re-appropriation and reinvention of the historic

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


city and landscape. The workshop studied complex
recent heritage, like that of the Tadmor Prison: trans-
forming it into a garden-memorial returned to a col-
lective use. Beals Lyon Arquitectos proposed to build
green oases among the urban rubble, with which to
trigger the development of reconstruction processes,
where spaces of transition and encounters could set
the beginning of a renewed cultural heritage. The
meeting of Venice and Syria was not only concep-
tual: the gardens of the historic lagoon city became
examples and measures for the proposed projects.
Salma Samar Damluji developed different-scale de-
sign solutions for the small village of Ma’Lūlā, where
heritage is not limited to built heritage but also em-
braces technical skills, materials, rituals, lifestyles,
languages, and social and ecological relationships
with the territory. Paredes y Pedrosa used the souk
complex of Aleppo as the physical site for a global
reflection on the relationship between ancient urban
systems and intergenerational evolution, proposing
hybrid-heritage as a generator of new evolutions and
transformations in the context of a historical city.

The different workshops found a common prospect


in the need to build a new tradition, a new active de-

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37 — Eric Hobsbawm, sign vision that transcends objects and imagines
Terence Ranger, “The
invention of tradition”, the reconstruction of the entire society by redefining
Cambridge University continuity links, even fictitious ones, with the past37.
Press, Cambridge, 1983.
This is a process that seeks cultural continuity with
38 — Benedetto Croce, the positive aspects of physical and immaterial herit-
“La storia come pensiero
e come azione”, Laterza,
age: a delicate and dangerous process that is also, at
Roma-Bari, 1938. the same time, necessary. Only a reading of the past
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

39 — Arjun Appadurai,
(and of the heritage that has reached us) that refers
“The past as a scarce to our present needs38, can allow us to exploit his-
resource”, Man New tory’s creative and productive force in a positive way.
Series, Vol. 16, No. 2,
1981. The past becomes a scarce but malleable resource:
against erratic manipulations and cancellations but
40 — Paul Morgan,
“Towards a develop- capable of hosting re-interpretations and re-appropri-
mental theory of place ations in order to ensure that “when changes occur,
attachment”, Journal of
environmental psychol-
it is not entirely at the cost of cultural continuity”39.
ogy, 30: 11–22, 2010.

41 — Anna Magrin, “La


George Arbid, founder of the Arab Center for Archi-
conservazione della città tecture in Beirut, contributed in the debate on threat-
è un problema urbanis- ened heritage by further emphasising the value of
tico”, in Benno Albrecht,
Anna Magrin, “Esportare memory in the reconstruction process. Memory in-
il Centro Storico”, tended not only as a personal or collective one, but
Guaraldi, Rimini, 2016.
in its systematic organisation. Documenting “place-
attachment” (the emotional bond that individuals
and communities have with their places of origin)40
was necessary in order to put the past (whether in
the form of narrative, memory, document or monu-
ment) as a term of comparison for the future project.
The preservation of the past as a tool for the design
of a rapidly and dramatically transforming present is,
in fact, one of the declinations of modernity41; a con-
cept that is intimately linked to the idea of progress.

Armando Dal Fabbro also dealt with the theme of


“place-attachment”. He devised a database of Alep-
po monuments, thinking that searching for their new
functions and meanings could be at the basis of
urban revival. Only careful redesign and critical re-

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Jacop o Galli

interpretation of the past can actively influence the


reconstruction process and avoid exploitation of the
tabula rasa solution. Sinan Hassan, the only Syrian
representative in the workshops, reflected on the
monumental complex of Palmyra as a microcosm
from which to rethink the entire country, starting
from symbolic and sentimentally significant places.
This idea acts simultaneously on several levels, im-
posing new urban and geographic polarities in the
Badia region, a transformed desert in the heart of the
peaceful country. Camillo Magni imagined a cem-
etery as a place for reconciliation and pacification,

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


putting it alongside the city ruins, within the various
historical and temporal levels, and creating a strati-
fication of memories capable of avoiding cuts and
negations. Francesco Cacciatore used the destroyed
walls of the Temple of Bel as a measure for a new
strategic settlement that could surround the modern
city of Tadmor with the archaeological area and the
oasis of Palmyra, transforming the memory of the
historic pre-modern town into the generating factor
of a new modernity. Attilio Santi proposed a new ur-
ban location and new architectural forms for the mu-
seum complex of Palmyra, heavily plundered by the
iconoclastic fury of Daesh. Antonella Gallo worked
on the area of Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus,
building a memorial for a civilisation on the brink of
extinction and using the exhibition space as a stage
on which to represent the fears and cross-narratives
of the causes of the conflict and its future memory.

Planning with and for “place-attachment” is not a


call to completely reconstruct com’era dov’era, nor
does it represent a crystallisation of the past: it
is a challenge for architects to build settlements
that can create a shared feeling of belonging for
people with different backgrounds and traumatic

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W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


42 — Robert Bevan, “The experiences. The systematic organisation of mem-
destruction of memory,
architecture at War”, ory and historical documentation allow “memory
Reaktion Books, London, of stone” to become an active design tool. Exist-
2006.
ing monuments and inhabited spaces can act as
43 — Edward Said, an anchor of memory within the process of mod-
“Orientalism”, Pantheon
Books, New York, 1978.
ernisation in which the loss of historical heritage,
with or without violence and destruction, is always
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

44 — Amin Maalouf,
“Orìgenes”, Grasset,
a side effect of progress42.
Paris, 2004.
Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Professor at MIT, passion-
45 — Ididem.
ately supported the need to start with an ethical re-
46 — Armando construction of the country and the entire region be-
Salvatore, “Islam and
the political discourse fore a physical one. Rebuilding the history of Syria
of modernity”, Reading and of the Arab world clearly showed how the obvi-
Garnet Publishing Ltd,
1999.
ous lack of morality in today’s conflict comes from
a long process of relativism and cultural exclusivity.
Starting from the irresolvable friction between ad-
herence and distance from Western principles that
affected post-colonial thought43, Arab thinkers have
often, unconsciously, proceeded to undermine the
universal values of freedom and democracy, some-
times reaching their complete negation and rein-
vention. Just as what happens for Amin Maalouf’s
main character in Orìgenes – who lives in a small
village on the Lebanon-Syrian border and scandal-
ises the entire community by walking about with his
head not covered, neither with an Eastern turban or
a European hat –, the search for sincerely universal
ethics (a synthesis between discordant instances44,
capable of “breathing light Levantine wisdom into
the principles proposed by the West”45) can cause
unrepairable fractures. Only a new “Al-Nahda”46 – a
collective awakening that fosters reconstruction on
universal human rights – can allow for reconstruc-
tion to fight abandonment, capitalist commodifica-
tion, bureaucratic calcification, and extremist fanat-
icism, simultaneously and on different fronts.

— 66 —
Jacop o Galli

The theme of a renewed ethical conscience and its 47 — Daniele Archibugi,


“Cittadini del mondo
effects on built spaces was addressed by Giancarlo verso una democrazia
Mazzanti, who proposed cooperation as a tool for cosmopolitica”, Il Saggia-
tore, Milano, 2009.
social construction. A series of urban “acupuncture”
operations were identified as tools to foster social 48 — Hanna Arendt, “The
origins of totalitarian-
cohesion and infrastructures capable of linking to- ism”, Schocken Books,
gether local experiences. Bom Architecture proposed New York, 1951.
a complete change for the area of Al Malek Faisal, 48 — Seyla Benhabib,
near the historic centre of Damascus: it re-read the “Another cosmopolitan-
changing natural conditions (due to climate change) ism”, Oxford University
Press, Oxford, 2006.
and the social evolution of the area as extraordinary
possibilities for the expansion of urban permeability,

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


expanding the possible dialogues between the differ-
ent parts of the urban fabric. Patrizia Montini Zimolo
sought out new ethics in public space, reflecting on
the spatial significance of the historical sedimenta-
tion of the Aleppo souk, and on the possibilities of
a future re-functionalisation of the voids left by con-
flict. Fernanda De Maio used the physical symbol of a
dining table, designed to communicate the distance,
ethical and emotional, between the Western observer
and the protagonists of the conflict. She created a
palimpsest of local references of universal value.
Gaeta Springall Architects used the symbolic ele-
ment of the line as a pretext to build a sequence of
exemplary spaces, bearing a new ethical approach
that links the ancient urban tradition to the difficult
process of forgiving without forgetting.

Renewed ethics of reconstruction can only arise


from a vision that restores a central role, with non-
negotiable value, to human rights47. If the enuncia-
tion of universal rights arises from the horrors of the
Second World War and is firmly linked to a territorial
and national affiliation48, the times are perhaps ripe
for the horrors of today to become an opportunity to
build an authentic system of cosmopolitan norms49

— 67 —
50 — Mark Mazower, as a guarantee for individuals on the global scenario.
“Governing the World:
the history of an idea”, We are in search of a world government (necessary
Allen Lane, London, today and inevitable tomorrow) that does not go
2012.
through military subjugation or nameless technology
51 — Guillaume Apol- but through a sharing of values: ethics that turn into
linaire, “To Italy”, in
Calligrammes, translated
governance50. This effort cannot be limited to court-
by Anne Hyde Greet, rooms or commissions for truth and reconciliation,
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

University of California
Press, Berkley, 1980.
but it must be extended to the construction of cos-
mopolitan places capable of representing and pro-
52 — Wisława Szymbor- moting virtuous behaviour at the same time.
ska, “The end and the
beginning in miracle
fair: selected poems of W.A.Ve. 2017 - Syria the Making of the Future is un-
Wisława Szymborska”,
translated by Joanna doubtedly the beginning of a journey that Università
Trzeciak, W. W. Norton Iuav di Venezia intends to address in order to identify
and Company Inc., New
York, 2001.
methods and tools for the hopefully imminent recon-
struction process. A debate, ethical before material,
was opened and saw the creative and pro-active ef-
fort of 1,500 students, assistants, and professors in
serving a country that is on its knees. An initiative that
fights the cancellation of signs that have reached us
through the centuries, and challenges our ability to
take part in the long relay between past and future
generations. W.A.Ve. 2017 - Syria the Making of the
Future is an act of humanistic resistance that has re-
sponded to horror not with guilty silence or compas-
sionate pietism, but with joyful creativity. It was an
effort in optimism because, as Guillaume Apollinaire
reminds us: “I have nothing in common with the Huns
joyless pride and I know how to laugh”51.

“After every war, someone has to clean up. Things


won’t, straighten themselves up, after all”52. The archi-
tect’s role in reconstruction is as easy, and difficult,
as these few words by Wisława Szymborska. Asking
a large group of young students and professors to
put their knowledge and enthusiasm at the service of
a global cause aims to awaken a cosmopolitan ten-

— 68 —
Jacop o Galli

dency of mutual help, a global empathy that, accord- 53 — Peter Kropotkin,


“Mutual aid: a factor of
ing to Peter Kropotkin is “so remote an origin, and evolution”, London, 1902.
is so deeply interwoven with all the past evolution
of the human race, that it has been maintained by
mankind up to the present time, notwithstanding all
vicissitudes of history. It was chiefly evolved during
periods of peace and prosperity; but when even the
greatest calamities befell men — when whole coun-
tries were laid waste by wars, and whole populations
were decimated by misery, or groaned under the yoke
of tyranny — the same tendency continued to live […]
The ethical progress of our race [...] appears as a

W.A.VE. 2017: EXERCISES IN HUMANISTIC RESISTANCE


gradual extension of the mutual-aid principles from
the tribe to always larger and larger agglomerations,
so as to finally embrace one day the whole of man-
kind, without respect to its divers creeds, languages,
and races”53.

— 69 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 70 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

Syrian cities a n d th e c h a llen g es o f


reconstruct io n

Abdulaziz Hallaj

Syria is a place that everybody thinks they know, and — Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj
indeed, as most Syrians have discovered, know very is a consultant on urban
planning, development,
little about. A place that is very different from one and local governance.
end to the other: culturally, economically, socially, po- He is a senior coordina-
tor of the Syria Project
litically; and the conflicts over the last few years have at the Common Space
only made these differences more visible. They have

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


Initiative in Beirut, where
he is engaged in facili-
brought them to the surface. As such, it is going to be tating various dialogues
very difficult for us to try to have a single grasp of the and research projects
for peace building and
country and say: “this is Syria”. In Syria, we are going recovery planning in Syr-
to have to always look at different locations, different ia. Formerly, he was the
places, and understand how each one of them is spe- CEO of the Syria Trust
for Development and
cial. For the next three weeks, you are going to embark served on the boards of
in projects on Syria. You need to understand that every several nongovernmen-
tal organisations and
place here has its own narrative, its own history, its public commissions.
own story to tell, and that that story has changed. His professional and
research work relates
institutional, financial,
I am going to begin with an example of a little town and political frameworks
to the production of built
next to Damascus called Qudssaya, and give you an environment. In 2007,
idea, set up a microcosm, of how things have evolved. he was the recipient of
This little town was once a small village about a few the Aga Khan Award for
Architecture as team
kilometres away from the capital of Damascus. The leader of the Shibam
number of registered people (people who are actual- Urban Development
Project (GIZ). He
ly from the town) is less than 5,000. Over the last 30 subsequently served on
years - as Syria was urbanising very quickly and peo- the master jury and the
steering committee of
ple moved from rural areas to the major cities - many the award.
people moved to Damascus, the capital, where all of
the business and politics were. Therefore, many peo-
ple could not find housing there. It was a booming
and expensive city. So what did they do? They moved
to the little villages that were around it. These towns,
once of 4,000-5,000 people, now are cities in their
own right, each one now counting 35,000, 40,000,

— 71 —
and 50,000. Qudssaya was one of those towns on
the periphery of a major capital, coming to com-
prise around 40,000 people. Then, at some point,
the government decided that they were going to de-
velop a new neighbourhood around this old town,
and build “another” Qudssaya, on the hills around it,
to house government employees. That small town
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

eventually grew to become another town of about


35,000 people. We therefore reach a total of more
or less 60,000 people. Then the war broke out and
the conflict started. Many people decided that they
wanted to stay in the city, while others returned to
their villages and towns at the first signs of conflict.
Some people in the old town of Qudssaya decided
that they would take part in the opposition against
the government, while other people decided they
would not. The town was split.

Eventually, the town was surrounded by the conflict.


Some people decided to stay and defend the city,
some people decided to leave. The town was as-
saulted many times, and experienced different con-
ditions of besiegement. The old town was attacked,
while the new one was not. Throughout the different
iterations and conditions for besiegement, the last
fighting rebels decided to leave the city and worked
out a deal with the government in order to leave. So
the city returned to the central government, but now
it only had a little more than half of its original pop-
ulation. Many people decided to come back to the
city after it returned to the government. When they
arrived, however, they found that a very large number
of houses had been destroyed. They also found oth-
er people living in their homes, because while they
were gone new people came in. Some people from
this town are became refugees in Lebanon, some of
them refugees in Turkey, and some in Europe. Others

— 72 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

joined opposition actors in Idlib. Therefore, now we


have a city that is trying to recover, and the big ques-
tion is: who is the city? Is the city the original 5,000
people that were born there? Is the city the 35,000
people that were living there just before the war? Is
the city the 30,000 people that stayed? Is the city the
new people that came during the conflict and sought
refuge there? Is the city the people that are trying
to come back? Is the city the people that will never
come back because they are now all over the place?
Who is the city? This is going to be one of the major

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


challenges that we are going to have to deal with in
Syria. Today, however, our challenge is to understand
Syrian cities a little better.

Let’s go back a few decades. Syria is a country that


was born about 100 years ago. Before that it was,
administratively, part of the Ottoman Empire. About
100 years ago, this country was formed thanks to
different political conditions. From the time of its
inception, two dominant cities controlled all of the
economy, power, and resources: the city of Damas-
cus and the city of Aleppo. They both present huge
peaks in terms of GDP, in relation to the rest of the
country. Then there were other four cities present-
ing medium peaks. Damascus, being the capital, had
roughly 2 million people living in the city, and other
2.5 million people living in little villages and towns
around it, like Qudssaya. Aleppo was more “solid”:
the city grew concentrically, and it had about 2.5
million people living in it. Cities in Syria were the
centre of administration. Therefore, these two cities
combined had roughly about half of the Syrian GDP
in industry, trade, and administration. About 60% of
Damascus’ GDP was due to the fact that govern-
ment was situated there: the government budget
in Damascus created 60% of the local GDP. Aleppo

— 73 —
was a city of trade and industry: all the agricultural
areas around the north of Syria sold their services in
Aleppo. Aleppo only had 25% of the GDP in govern-
ment spending; the rest was private. The other cit-
ies in Syria are different, and each one of them has
a different economy and social structure. One thing
you notice is that parts of the country, to the East,
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

were very much underdeveloped, since some cities


received more funds than others did. The government
spending per-capita in Damascus (city) is about five
or six times the spending per-capita in a small town
somewhere else. There was a huge difference, and if
you go to the rural areas government spending was
even less. Everything was concentrated in the cities.
When we try to understand how ISIS came to be, we
should know that it grew in areas where government
spending was minimal. Because ISIS controls the oil,
and because they have foreign donors giving them
a lot of money, it could spend more than the govern-
ment in rural areas. This was not very difficult, con-
sidering that the government was spending less than
200 dollars per-capita, per year, in those areas. ISIS
could easily match that once they put their hands on
oil and once they had access to all the international
supporters of radicalisation. Syria was very much a
centralised state, as France and Italy were about 50
years ago when they began their decentralisation pro-
cesses. Syria, though, never began such a process and
remained a central state. Therefore, politically, every-
body elected the central government – if they did at
all – and then the central government decided what
would happen in every location. There was very little
decision making at a local level: local councils were
more like advisory boards for the government, simply
reporting what happened in their areas without any
actual decision making powers. Only a few cities had
elected councils, the other smaller towns and villages

— 74 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

had appointed councils. This created more agency in


the cities. There were 120 cities – meaning towns or
settlements bigger than 20,000 people – and, by 2011,
54% of the Syrian population lived in these cities. This
was a drastic change from about 40 or 50 years ago.
A massive organisation took place, and all Syrian re-
sources were necessary to accommodate people in
the cities. Very little money went to rural areas. As
cities were growing very quickly, the bureaucracy that
was set from the time of the French mandate could
not cope with the speed at which things were devel-

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


oping. As architects and planners, we think in terms
of masterplans and firmly believe that the plan takes
care of everything. It usually took governments an av-
erage of seven to ten years to develop a masterplan
for a big city. In Aleppo, they developed a masterplan
for the city, about 15 years ago, but by the time they
finished the first version the city had already exceeded
the plan’s limits; and by the time they did the second
one, the city had already gone beyond the new limits
again. So they decided to prepare another plan. At the
time, Aleppo was growing at a rate of 3.3% per year,
which means the city added more than 50,000 resi-
dences every year over in a period of 10 years. Most of
the growth, however, took place in areas that were not
planned. On average, the big cities in Syria had 30%
of the population living in spontaneous settlement ar-
eas; but in the two big cities, Damascus and Aleppo,
they had almost 45-50% living there.  This was be-
cause bureaucracy was very difficult to move, and the
government was not able to formalise this enormous
development quickly enough; which also brought to
corruption and massive migration into the cities. All
of this created a condition for which – by the last 25
years before the conflict started – one housing unit
was built in the formal sector for every three housing
units built in the informal sectors in the cities.

— 75 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 76 —
— 77 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


In 2000-2004, the government began to realise the
severity of the problem, and began to present some
reforms: they liberalised the issues of land devel-
opment, banks, and access to finance. But all this
was too little, too late: there was a gap between the
needs of the population and what the cities could of-
fer. When you will consider rebuilding Syria, in your
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

projects, remember this: before the war, there was


very little regulatory capacity to manage the cities.
There is one housing unit formal (and with formal I
mean government, private sector, and cooperatives)
to every three housing units in the informal. What do
you expect that to become after the conflict? You are
going to be working with informality, whether you like
it or not, whether you do masterplans or you don’t,
whether you do beautiful drawings or you don’t. The
primary condition of your work in Syria, after the con-
flict, is going to be informality, and you are going to
have to deal with that. If you are going to insist on
the power of the “plan”, good luck: it has not worked
before and it will likely not work again. You have to
work with the power of the communities. The govern-
ment, before the conflict, had this brilliant idea: to
control informality by building formal houses around
the informal areas, move the people from the infor-
mal areas to the new formal ones, and develop the
land that had been emptied in the meantime, bringing
more people to live in it. It sounded logical. The prob-
lem was that to do this in the city of Aleppo, back in
2000, meant that the government would have had to
use every single penny going into the Aleppo budget,
for the next 120 years, to solve the problem existing
in Aleppo in year 2000. We have an accumulation of
lack of resources. Post conflict, resources are going
to be even more limited. Where you decide to invest
them is going to be tremendously important. If you
use your money to build 5,000 housing units, it is go-

— 78 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

ing to look grand: everybody will look at the TV screen


and say, “wow, we built 5,000 housing units”. The
war has destroyed roughly 30% of the housing stock
value in Syria; that means there are about 1,200,000
damaged housing units, half of which are seriously
damaged or beyond repair. So, you can spend your
money on 5,000 housing units, take cameras there
and show that you have done something grand. But
it will be nothing but a drop in the sea. Where do I
use my money if I am not going to build 5,000 hous-
ing units? That is going to be the question. You are

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


going to have to decide, very intelligently, where to
put your money, in order to lead development in the
best way. If you use the money to build 5,000 housing
units, you are not using it for anything else. That is
the second big question that we will have to face in
the future in Syria.

Most of the examples I present are from Aleppo


because it is on the news today and is very visible.
Aleppo is very emblematic… and it is my city. Many
people have proposed that poverty is the reason why
we have a conflict in Syria. They are partially right, it is
important that we keep this in mind. However, there is
not only one reason behind this conflict; every town in
Syria has a different story. Aleppo entered late into the
conflict; in fact, the conflict was brought to it from the
outside, from its rural surroundings. When it reached
Aleppo, it immediately settled on the dividing line be-
tween the poor and the rich. The rebels could not push
into the more affluent neighbourhoods, so there was a
solid support in the poorer neighbourhoods, but pov-
erty did not cause the conflict in Aleppo. It did in other
places, though; I am not saying that poverty was not
the cause across the whole of Syria: you are going to
have to investigate the reasons behind the conflict in
every single city, since it differs in every place. This

— 79 —
also means that the healing process is going to begin
from a different place in every case. Part of your job
as architect and planners is to understand where the
healing will begin. Do not assume that because you
now know something about Syria you are able to un-
derstand it. You are going to need to understand what
happened in each specific place you will work on.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Where did the damage take place? 70% of stock de-


struction took place in the areas that held the opposi-
tion, where major fighting was taking place. But 30% of
the damage took place in government-controlled areas,
and this is something you don’t see on the news often.
Yes, government areas were not as badly damaged as
the other parts; but the parts that stood in between
– the areas between the two sides of the city – were
greatly damaged, and those are going to be cleavage
points because people remember the dividing lines. I
did a survey on the city of Beirut with some students
of mine, and we discovered that, still today (twenty-
six years after the war), it presents a lower percentage
of traffic moving from East Beirut to West Beirut than
of traffic moving to Aleppo under siege. This in terms
of traffic proportion, not in terms traffic volume, of
course: Beirut is a living city now and many people go
back and forth. We speak in terms of the proportion of
where people travel. Cities have a strange way of living
after a conflict, and of remembering where the con-
flict took place. The areas of confrontation between
the two conflicting sides are going to be places that
you are going to have to focus on in your work. If you
do not treat them well, they will haunt the next layer of
history and the efforts of the next people who mean to
live there. These are very important areas to consider
from the start, and think about how you are going to
work on them as architects. If you ignore them, they
have a strange way of surviving in people’s minds.

— 80 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

Now, assessing the damage again, most of the dam-


age took place in areas that were spontaneous set-
tlements. 70% of the damaged stock is in areas that
were spontaneous settlements, while only 30% is
in areas that are formalised and have cadastral re-
cords. That is another problem you are going to have
to deal with. People still manage some sort of legal-
ity in informal areas. Do not think that informal peo-
ple do not have papers; they have different types of
papers. For instance, they could have court orders;
or papers from the government saying that they own

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


plots of agricultural land that have been urbanised
over the years, but that are still registered as agri-
cultural. Therefore, when people will return, the gov-
ernment will ask for their documents. This is another
major problem that we will have to fight. Housing
land and property issues will greatly decide how the
city will evolve. In areas that have strong cadastral
documentation, people will most likely rebuilt along
the same lines as before. In areas without strong re-
cords, there will most likely be a tabula rasa. Syria al-
ready has areas that have been prepared to become
a tabula rasa; the government has already prepared
some itself, while other actors in other parts of the
country are setting tabulae rasae in preparation for
the future. This is going to be a major challenge be-
cause people who used to have a community some-
where are fighting hard to return to that community.
For example, two neighbourhoods in the northern
part of the city of Hama took part in the early conflict,
and people left because they were afraid of the gov-
ernment. Then the government decided these were
spontaneous settlement areas and would not allow
people to return and bring trouble, so they razed it to
the ground. Where would people who once lived here
go now? A lot of them were originally from villages,
so the government is pushing them to go back there.

— 81 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 82 —
— 83 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


But do they have a right to the city? That is the next
big question: who has the right to be in cities? You,
as architects and planners, sometimes draw beautiful
drawings; but every line in your drawings will decide
who gets to come back and who does not. Beautiful
grand city projects are most likely chosen by big de-
velopers, but they also most likely will not have many
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

people return. On the other hand, if you think too small


you might not be able to get the necessary funding to
do anything. These are not easy issues to tackle. When
you decide that the best thing to do in a certain area is
to develop massive housing, all you do is play on one
side of the equation and not on the other. These are
things for you to consider in the future.

Then there is the issue of money: where will the


money come from? The damage to the city of Alep-
po is now roughly equivalent to seven trillion Syrian
pounds. That is a huge amount of money, even con-
sidering the devaluation of the Syrian pound. The
government is not going to have that money. Even
before the very last range of hostilities, that further
damaged the city, it was estimated that it will take
the equivalent of 400% of total government spend-
ing to rebuild Aleppo housing stock, without spend-
ing it on anything else (schooling, hospitals, social
services, electricity). If they spend their money ex-
clusively on housing, it is going to take four years of
complete government spending. That means that if
we put all the money in the housing basket, no pub-
lic employees or teachers will get salaries. Always
in the case of Aleppo, if we are going to depend on
government funding for reconstruction in the hous-
ing sector, with a reasonable redistribution, it will
most likely take about 30-35 years. The good news is
that most of that stock was not built by government
funding in the first place; most of that stock was built

— 84 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

because people helped themselves. Let us remem-


ber that these were spontaneous settlement areas,
so it is likely that people will rebuild them. The point
is we need to give them the right conditions to do
so; we need to give them access to funding, finance,
credits, jobs, and education. When you are working
on your projects, it is very important that you do not
only consider repairing stones: you need to repair
economies. Economies build houses. Governments
do not: governments build economies. Do not think
about “ideal” reconstruction solutions; think about

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


what would move the economy in order for these cit-
ies to bring people back.

We are used to looking at Aleppo and Syria on maps


that show who holds what part of the country. Un-
fortunately, these maps are not very useful because
Syria is no longer like this. Syria is mainly cities: you
have to think of the geography in terms of cities. The
population of Syria was 54% urban before the con-
flict. We are now debating on how many people still
live here. The UN says it is 18.8, but it is a political
decision rather than a statistical one. Once they de-
cided that the population is of 18.8 million people,
it meant that – out of a population that should be
of 23 million – 5 million people had left the coun-
try. Therefore, they began distributing the rest of the
population in cities and towns. We have been doing
town-by-town evaluations, and we think that the pop-
ulation of Syria cannot be more than 16 to 17 million.
If we know where the populations are today, it means
that 75% of the Syrian population is now living in ur-
ban areas, as compared to the 54% from before the
conflict. You may think of this as a temporary thing,
but it actually is not. There has already been an urban
revolution in Syria: 75% of population living in urban
areas is not a reversible process.

— 85 —
People do not go back to villages after wars; they do
not go from living in the city to living in rural areas.
You are going to have to think of cities in the fu-
ture; and cities are where the resilience is, cities are
where people have states, here services function
better than other areas. So the question we need to
ask ourselves now is: how do we deal with the peo-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

ple that are now living in these cities? The people


who came to the cities are people who are trained
to do agricultural work; they do not have the skills to
live in the city. We should majorly invest in trying to
bridge this education gap. The other thing we need
to worry about is: who are these people? How old
are they? The population from 15 to 30 years of age
have all disappeared, particularly the male popula-
tion, because they do not want to fight. Despite eve-
rything you hear in the news, Syrians do not like to
fight. Most families have arranged what little mon-
ey they had in order to send their sons away from
the conflict. There is a whole generation that is no
longer there anymore: people are in Europe, Leba-
non, Turkey, Jordan, even Sudan, Brazil, Saudi Ara-
bia, etc. Some of these people will eventually return,
and then the question becomes: what culture will
they bring back with them? You need to consider
that once people leave from one place for another,
they begin seeing the world in a different way. The
people who will be returning to Qudssaya in the fu-
ture, will be coming from this diaspora, and they are
going to have to live together; they are going to have
to decide what culture brings them together. This
is one of your challenges, too. Forget everything
you know about Middle Eastern and Islamic cities:
people’s cultures have changed. People are going to
carry different cultures and ideas with them. Syria is
going to become a truly multicultural environment.
How do you deal with it as architects?

— 86 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

Populations also have changed. An average Syrian


city has gained about 45% of new comers, but it has
lost 50% of its original population. This is the new de-
mographic reality of Syria. Today, you will hear many
people talking about demographic change in Syria,
and all they are thinking about is the sectarian and
ethnic demographic change that has taken place.
I am not saying that it has not, but the real demo-
graphic change that has taken place in Syria is the 12
million Syrians that were displaced during the war.
That is a great demographic change. Regardless of

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


who they are, what sect they are from, what religion
they follow, or their ethnicity: 12 million people were
displaced during the war. The very geometry of the
society has changed. Not all of it is sectarian – a very
small section of it is – but everyone has practiced
some sort of ethnic or sectarian cleansing in Syria.

Today, it is “sexy” to talk about “sectarian cleans-


ing” on the news because Europe has had its prob-
lems with it in the Balkans, and everybody is trying
to project what happened there on what is happen-
ing in Syria. But it is a different war; it is a differ-
ent conflict. We cannot project one thing onto the
other. This is something that we are working on; we
have done surveys on about 40 cities in Syria and
taken about 27 indicators on every aspect of urban
issues. The UN Habitat methodology has defined
this process as the Cities Prosperity Index. We have
developed some indicators to tell us about how gov-
ernment and legislation are implemented in cities:
productivity, infrastructure, quality of life, environ-
mental sustainability, and equity and social inclu-
sion. We have several indicators that report what
is happening for each these aspects. People often
think about Syria in terms of government areas, op-
position areas, Kurdish areas, ISIS areas, etc.

— 87 —
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— 88 —
— 89 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 90 —
— 91 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


In reality, what is most significant is not who controls
the area, even if it is an important factor. The major
significance, in determining how cities function, lies
in whether they were very big cities before they were
“shocked”. They are doing much worse than they
were before because, initially, the major cities were
the heads of everything. Now, major cities have re-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

tracted; but medium level cities are doing well across


the board, in all geographies. Smaller towns, by con-
trast, are doing very poorly. These are determining
factors everywhere in Syria.

Another important factor is whether the city is ho-


mogeneous. That is, whether it has the same level of
services across the board, or whether there are big
differences in the population. Where there is a big
difference in income, in distribution of services, cit-
ies tend to do worse. However, cities are where jobs
are: jobs are concentrated in cities that present high
discrepancies in social equity. Quality of life is poor,
but that is where jobs are. This is true across all the
territories. It is very hard to decide which are gov-
ernment cities, and which are opposition cities. The
differences between them are minimal; but the differ-
ences between the sizes of the cities is maximum,
as are the differences between homogeneous or
non-homogeneous cities. Do not be fooled in think-
ing only in terms of government versus opposition.
Syria has different narratives.

Then, there are many stakeholders in Syria. Indeed,


one of biggest problems is finding out who-is-who.
There are different categories of institutional, politi-
cal, armed, and other kind of actors here. It is going
to be very difficult to get these people to talk to each
other again. One of the biggest challenges you are
going to discover is that, during the last period, ad-

— 92 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

ministration has changed, systems have changed,


and economies have changed. You are going to have
to figure out how to make these people communi-
cate again. Those who are doing local governance
in different parts of Syria are apparently all using the
same law; the same law that the government in Da-
mascus is using (Law 107). It is applied in all areas,
even in opposition areas. However, everybody has a
different understanding of it, and eventually it is go-
ing to be very difficult to get people, after the conflict,
to learn how to bring these different administrations

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


together. You are going to need to figure out how to
meet the people’s needs. There are different stand-
ards of governance. Today, there are parts of Syria
that are funded by German donors, which apply Ger-
man standards; British, American, Russian, Iranian,
and Turkish donors have funded money in other parts
of the country. Each of them brings different admin-
istrations and technical standards along with them.
The question is going to be: what standards do we
count on to bring everybody to work together again?
The power, in every geographic reality, lies in a differ-
ent place: in the government-controlled areas it is in
the national institutions, in the opposition-controlled
areas it’s mainly in the local councils and in the
civil society. There is no power at a national level.
In the armed actors, power lies in between; provin-
cial armed councils manage things in these cases.
In the Kurdish areas, they created “cantonments” in
which the power resides. In these cases, the local
and city levels have very little power. All these also
present municipalities; in some cases, however, the
municipalities are very powerful, while in others they
are nothing but small bureaucracy. Therefore, in the
future, when you work with municipalities, remember
that they often are not where the power is. It could
be in the municipality, in the head of the cantonment,

— 93 —
with the armed actors, or with the governor: you are
going to have to figure out, for each city, how you are
going to bring back some sort of a national “middle
ground”. That is going to be a major task.

Now the good news. Many people have been divided


in Syria, but many self-help groups continue to talk to
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

each other despite the conflict. In the case of Aleppo,


for example, over 300 website or Facebook pages link
people across the city. We should not think that the
society is as divided as we are told. People have been
creative in finding their own solutions: for example,
wells have been created collectively in the city, and
people are sharing creative ways to get to water. This
situation has been created by a war economy, as well;
but it presents a lot of resilience at the same time.
The war economy is something that is usually feared;
when we think of war economy we think of war crimes.
In reality, the goods that are flowing across Syria eve-
rywhere, from one area to the next, bring transaction
fees that enable warlords to emerge. However, goods
flowing all other the place also bring people to trade
with each other. Yes, there are people fighting on the
military front lines; but on the side, people are doing
trade. There is a little town in northern Syria, Kafr Jana,
that used to be like a summer resort. It is located right
between opposition areas and Kurdish areas. Here,
warriors fight during the day, and go to nightclubs
and spend time together in the evening. We need to
remember these human things. Yes, the war economy
is real; but so is people’s persistence to live. These are
things we can build on.

Recently, we have been hearing of “de-escalation


zones”, safe zones, areas of control. Many projects
are trying to bring the conflict to a less violent out-
come. However, each of these projects is a political

— 94 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

project for the future of Syria: the Russians want their


piece, the Americans want their piece, the Turks want
their piece, the Iranians want their piece, etc. We have
to think about the consequences of this because it will
create new geographies and new boundaries. We have
to think about how we are going to weave points of
contact between these geographies. How do we make
these geographies talk to each other? The “big guys”
want a very clear map: this is my land and that is your
land, this is my turf and that is your turf. It is much
easier for Americans, Russians, Iranians, and Turks to

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


control the world this way: this is my yard and that is
your yard. We have to think about how we bridge be-
tween these areas. As architects and as planners, we
need to start thinking about how to break the dividing
lines; and find, in every geography, the interest (wheth-
er economic, social, or political) that will make people
talk to each other across the dividing lines.

It is not impossible. It is done every day in Syria: peo-


ple in the rural areas of Hama (controlled by the op-
position) cross over to government-controlled areas
to get medical treatment. Every time the government
has a campaign to recruit people to go fight, young
men flee for a couple of days to opposition areas;
they hide out there and go back when the campaign
is finished. The boundaries in Syria are not as hard
as we think. As architects and planners, you have to
find out how to make these public spaces – these
entry points, these contact points – safer, cross-
able, and more accessible. These are the issues for
the future of Syria. Even after the conflict will stop,
we are going to need to convince people to cross
over to the other side. Finding the right formula for a
public space in every town is going to be your main
challenge. Reconciliation is also a question of archi-
tecture and planning.

— 95 —
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— 96 —
— 97 —
Ab dulaziz Hallaj

SYRIAN CITIES AND THE CHALLENGES OF RECONSTRUCTION


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 98 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

C ities in exile - c ities of th e fu t u re



Kilian Kleinschmidt

This is about refugees. What associations come to — Kilian Kleinschmidt


your mind when you think about refugees nowadays? has over 25 years
hands-on experience in
You see sweaty aid workers somewhere on an Afri- international develop-
can or Asian boarder, distributing help to poor people ment, emergency
response, resource
who need charity. Confess: when you think of refu- mobilisation, and politi-
gees, in Italy, you think about many people in boats, cal/regional cooperation
in a wide range of
you think about tents, and things that have been as- organisations (UN,
sociated with humanitarian aid for the last 70 years. NGOs), countries, and

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


programmes. Previous
That is what you have in mind; these are the images, assignments include
the visuals that to see. It is, however, a very primitive Deputy Humanitarian
image, because it is not about refugees: it is about Coordinator for Somalia,
Deputy Representa-
aid business. tive for UNHCR in
Kenya, Deputy to the
Special Envoy of the UN
There are refugees all over the world; there are peo- Secretary General for
ple on the move everywhere. Let us just look directly Assistance to Pakistan.
In his recent position as
around us: we are sitting in the middle of a former the UNHCR Mafraq Head
refugee camp in Tolentini. Originally, Venice was a of Sub-Office and Camp
Manager for Za’atari
refugee camp; and this beautiful convent is a refu- Refugee Camp in Jordan
gee camp in the middle of a refugee city. That is the (the world’s second-
origin of Venice: a camp; people fled here when the largest refugee camp
and the largest camp
barbarians first came and raided villages. What did for Syrian refugees),
these people do? They were seeking refuge some- he has exceeded all
expectations and has
where, protection, and they planted a billion trees in achieved the impossible,
the ground to build an artificial island, like Dubai to- transforming Za’atari
from a chaotic and
day. That is in fact a camp. So what does this camp crime-ridden place to a
here – where we are today, where billions of tourists thriving and stable com-
munity ready for its tran-
come – have to do with refugee camps as we im- sition to the next phase
agine them, as we image people on the move? I do of its development.
not think you look like a person on the move, like the
refugees you see in today’s “images”. I want you to
imagine that, a thousand years later, this is still con-
sidered a refugee camp, where you still depend on

— 99 —
somebody like me – from UNHCR, where I have spent
most of my career on the high commission for the
refugees (the NGOs). What does that mean? There
are 100 people, maybe 120, people in this project.
This means that - because you are depending on me,
because you are living in a refugee camp – you are
depending on somebody who gives you the right to
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

live and the survival aid. I will be deciding what you


will be eating, what you will be drinking, what you
wear, etc. That is my job as an aid worker: I become
something like god, because I decide how you will
be doing every day. The people who give me money
decide how you will be doing every day. 120 people
would trust in me, and I do not even see their faces.
This is what happens when you organise a refugee
camp as you see it on TV, in a classic sense. I do not
see your faces: I simply “count” you, because all you
have become is logistics. What does that mean? 18
litres of clean water multiplied by 120: that is what I
have to provide to you. I just multiply18 by 120, with-
out asking you how you wash yourself, how much you
drink. No, I am calculating simple mathematics that
will give me a number, a quantity of litres of water I
need to provide. I know you need 2,100 kcal for nu-
trition. I do not ask you what you really like to eat;
and you will eat the same stuff for generations be-
cause that is all you are getting, nothing else. And
everybody gets the same shoes, the same clothing.
That is what aid is all about, that is how I look at you.
When we talk about shelters, we divide you by five
because that gives me the number of tents we will
have to provide to you. This is what humanitarian aid
has been doing for the last 70 years. It also does it
only for a tiny portion of people, but we will come to
that. This is how we think we are helping people on
the move; not realising that, in this refugee city here
for example, nobody ever distributed blankets, tents,

— 10 0 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

or did mathematical calculations on kcal. It worked


differently. People on the move are our history, our
present, and will be our future. We are born out of
migration; we are born out of people being pushed
from left to right. Yes, the world is not always nice.
Yes, there have been millions and millions of people
throughout history that have been pushed from A to
B – because the Barbarians came, because the Ro-
mans came, because the Huns came, because some-
body came and pushed others away. That is how the
worlds has built itself. We are all a result of those
migrations. We are an incredible mix of people; any-
body who thinks we are one within our nation-state

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


is wrong. We were born out of that movement; we
have been thriving out of that movement. But today
we have made something very strange out of all this:
we have divided these people on the move in two dif-
ferent categories. I come from the United Nations
High Commission for refugees, and the refugees
conventions are something very important; but you
must be cautious: only 22,500,000 people in today’s
world fall under the convention on the protection of
refugees. That is only a small drop, a small portion
of all the people that are currently on the move. In
the last 200 years, about 3% of the world’s population
has been migrating. This has not changed in the last
few years, so there is no migration crisis whatsoever;
it is the same numbers. But we see this case, these
22,500,000 people, as something different. Because
of persecution, because of terrible conditions. You
are working on the theme of Syria, one of the most
horrible man-made crises of our times. In the global
perspective, however, it is only a small drop of people.
Think about it. The people who are currently on the
move – because of poverty, in search of better per-
spectives, access to rights, access to opportunities –
are about 900,000,000, in the whole world.

— 10 1 —
Only 22,500,000 fall under the refugee mandate.
What about all the others? They are accounted as
economic migrants, as people who should not be
moving. That is how we often perceive them.

Therefore, with what we call “aid”, we are considering


a small portion that only becomes visible in what we
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

call refugee camps. That is where everybody focuses


on. Everybody focuses on images of tents and con-
tainers but not, as it should be, on those of our envi-
ronments, our cities, our communities and societies,
built up by migration.

To bring that on a level that is more “concrete”, I


would like to describe what has been happening in
one of the last refugee camps I have been managing:
the camp of Zaatari in Jordan. It was established in
2012, for the refugees from Syria, by the government
of Jordan together with the United Nations’ UNHCR.
We are now setting up a camp because, at the time,
3,000 people came to Jordan every day and the gov-
ernment felt that it could not allow these people to
mingle with the rest of population any longer. It had
to “store” them somewhere, and you can only do
that with a camp. It was very successful in terms of
logistics, in the terms of responding to the require-
ments of the NGOs. The UN managed, within days,
to provide a camp in the middle of nowhere, in the
North of Jordan, 10 km from the Syrian border. They
managed to provide assistance: 80 liters of water,
2100 kcal of food per person, 1 tent for every five
people, everything, very smoothly. And very proud-
ly: “Victory! We got a good operation going”. And
then something happened that nobody has expect-
ing: there was a rebellion. There was a rebellion by
these people, who said: “We’re eating, we’re drinking,
we’re sleeping but you’re not treating us as human

— 10 2 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

beings”. So they rebelled. Demonstrations, violence,


Jordanian police officers were killed, aid workers
were injured, facilities in the camp were looted,
destroyed, vandalised. It became what would be
known as the “hell of all refugee camps” by jour-
nalists and by the people themselves. In that mo-
ment, Zaatari was emblematic of all refugee camps
in the world: it stored people, not treating them as
human beings but treating them as commodities.
We were assuming that they would be happy to just
eat, drink, and sleep. We think that it is what poor
people want. A refugee is poor; we do not look at
what he was before or how he lived. We see him as

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


a refugee at the lowest form. Therefore, that rebel-
lion had a logic; it was against the arrogance of aid
operations, against the neglect of human beings. I
was sent there seven months after the camp was es-
tablished. We came out to Mogadishu, where I was
the UN humanitarian coordinator, and I was asked
to “fix” the camp; fix it and understand why people
were rebelling. When I got there, I found the camp,
established in July 2012, had reached 100,000 peo-
ple in just seven months. 100,000 people, in a stor-
age facility, were considered as commodities by
the aid agencies and by the Jordanian authorities.
They should be happy, and yet what were they do-
ing? Moving the tents, moving the containers issued
to replace the tents; stealing the public toilets, the
public kitchens, and the public showers. Why? To
individualise it all: they became private toilets, pri-
vate showers, private kitchens. By stealing and van-
dalising, they were telling us that they wanted to be
recognised as individuals, seen as people again: “I
do not want to go to the toilet with a hundred other
people, and I do not want to be told to clean the
toilets of other people either. I want to go home and
shit alone”. This was the level of things.

— 10 3 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 10 4 —
— 10 5 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 10 6 —
— 10 7 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


Imagine you become a refugee tomorrow. You have
to run away for whatever reasons and you are told
that you are not an individual anymore. You are like
everybody else. You are one group of people with
the same needs because you come from the same
country. Therefore, you are all the same. That is what
they are going to tell you. What we were facing in
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

this camp was the opposition between what the in-


ternational world thinks of poor refugees, and what
people think of themselves as human beings, as indi-
viduals. They were asking for individualism. Anybody
who imagines that people want to mix with others in
times of crisis, and that people coming from a civil
war understand each other, that there is a sense of
community, is wrong. You cannot trust your brother;
you cannot trust a police officer. Your brother could
be a traitor. The police officer could be your torturer.
This is what civil wars produce in communities. You
have been pushed out of your villages, out of your
towns, and you have to move in together with oth-
er people. The first common desire is to be able to
close and lock the door, to protect yourself against
whatever else is out there. Individualism is the first
thing you look for. Rebelling against the fact that
you are treated the same became, for me, a logical
consequence of “storage” that was not planned cor-
rectly. So I decided at that point that I had to look
at that settlement of 100,000 people in a different
way. I had to understand that people were trying to
rebuild themselves before they could be able to build
the community. Understanding that it was not their
desire to be dependent on somebody like me, was
important. Understanding that it is de-humanising to
go and queue up people for them to get food, was
important. So how do you shift the gears? That was
the issue, and we discovered we were not equipped
as humanitarians to deal with that. We had no clue of

— 10 8 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

how to organise a settlement of 100,000 people. We


had no clue of how to structure services in a way that
people could become accountable for what they did,
instead of receiving everything for free. We were not
equipped to build up anything for them to manage
their own affairs. Before continuing, I want to show
you a report about the incredible development, in one
year’s time, of the existence of this camp. This story
has been told by the BBC business report. When have
you ever seen a BBC business report applied to a ref-
ugee camp? Well, refugee camps have an economy.
People have been setting up shops and businesses.
They did not simply want things: they wanted to buy

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


them themselves. Today, in the Zaatari camp that is
now 5 years old, there are 3,000 shops with a month-
ly turnover of 50 million euros. It even has a travel
agency, bicycle shops, bird shops, pet shops, plant
shops, and anything that you would have in a refugee
city… like Venice. Restaurants, beauty parlours, eve-
rything. Because they decided to rebuild a city.

It is with some pride that I can say that, after our col-
lective work, it took one year not to have a single oth-
er violent demonstration in the camp anymore. No
demonstrations, no more tear gas. What happened?
It was a complete shift of paradigm, a complete shift
in our way of looking at the people. I started to call
myself the Mayor: I was not the manager or the boss
anymore. I became the Mayor. I look at what citi-
zens in new cities worry about. One of the lessons I
learned at the UN, in one of the many training cours-
es, was to always talk to the women at the well. They
will tell you how things really are. We talked to the
people who had little voice, who did not push them-
selves in front of everybody else. We began under-
standing that we had to be “with” the people, to walk
among them. So I walked around like a Mayor going

— 10 9 —
through his city, and my staff became responsible for
the twelve districts we had divided the camp into.
We had revised the governance structure in order to
make the people of the various districts responsible
for their own affairs.

Electricity was yet another issue. There is no hu-


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

manitarian standard for electricity. We had to install


public lights to make the place safe; but when we
ran out of money, we had to stop putting them in the
new part of the camp. There weren’t enough public
lights. What happened was that there were, all of a
sudden, 14,000 connections to streets lamps - and
a 500,000 UNHCR euro bill to be paid by the taxpay-
ers’ money for humanitarian budgets. We had to pay
500,000 euros a month for electricity, which was a
total disaster for our budget. However, it also pro-
duced safety, social life, happiness, and economy. It
“built” something. We could not cut it. Recognising
what people really wanted was the number one is-
sue: finding ways of managing what people wanted,
and getting out of the logic that everything had to be
for free. 90% of the world’s refugees, and 100% of
the people on the move, are not living in a refugee
camp. They have to pay for their services. Why was
there a need to not pay for services in this camp? Set-
ting up a service provider was a completely new idea;
a utility public/private partnership to cover some of
the costs. We talked to the people holding new small
businesses in the camp, and they said: “Of course
we are ready to pay. We do business, why shouldn’t
we?”. We soon discovered that we - as UNHCR, as
NGOs - had absolutely no idea of how to set up a
paying electricity system, how to set up utilities. It
was necessary to deal with the situation profession-
ally. The first thing we did was stop free distributions,
largely. We went from having people “queue up”, to

— 110 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

people acting as they do in a modern society. We


gave people smart cards, so they could go to a super-
market and shop, as you do everywhere today. If they
couldn’t afford, we gave them cash: we made happy
shoppers out of charity recipients. People pushing a
shopping cart are given dignity back. I know I sound
like an old capitalist but it made a difference: people
who rioted every time there was a food distribution
with the World Food Programme, were now dressing
up to go to the supermarkets.

We had to organise services and structures for this


emerging settlement. The Minister for Foreign Trade

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


and Development of the Netherlands, Lilianne Plou-
men, visited us. We toured the camp and I told her,
“showed” her, all this. That was my way of explaining
to John Kerry, Angelina Jolie, to all the many visitors
who came as well. To help them shift their ideas and
understand that it is not about tents, litres, or calo-
ries: this is about dignity. It is about building up ac-
tual spatial management, and have services so that
people can actually be human beings again. Minister
Ploumen asked me what we needed. As a UN official,
I should have said money. I said I needed technical
assistance, city planners, professionals that could
do things I could not. I am not a professional; I am
not a city planner, a spatial planner, or a transport
planner. I needed professionals. Minister Ploumen
went back to the Netherlands and spoke to the VNG,
the Association of Dutch Municipalities, and asked
if they could help. The VNG spoke to the city of Am-
sterdam. Two-three months after her visit, we had
the first team from Amsterdam city come out to the
refugee camp. Therefore, the whole project actually
moved onto having a partnership between Jordan
and ministries of local government, the VNG, and
the city of Amsterdam. They also helped the many

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— 112 —
— 113 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


municipalities impacted by the arrival of people out-
side of the camp, pressuring the infrastructure and
social cohesion. We had professionals and technical
assistance corporations help. However, there still
was a complete disconnection between the different
worlds. We have had people look at the camp we de-
signed and say it was not sustainable. But they are
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

thinking in a humanitarian short-term perspective;


we are thinking of setting up new cities. The Amster-
dam team I had with me was actually building up a
new city somewhere near Amsterdam, so they un-
derstood. They do not plan these things to last for 5
years; they plan for them to last a long time. In Wien,
there is a Seestadt, a development for 20,000 people
and 20,000 new jobs. Are they planning it for short
terms? No. But we do not connect these similar situ-
ations. When we discuss refugees, we discuss about
their eventual return to where they came from. What I
am going to say now is controversial but let me chal-
lenge you: the right to return does not imply an obli-
gation to return. Nobody should become hostage to
a situation. People in exile move in and should have
the chance to develop and build up new lives. Most
of them are doing it anyway, since most do not live
in camps. How do we deal with this? As a very con-
crete example, I posted a picture of the Palestinian
parts of Amman, the capital of Jordan. We have be-
ing doing research, with the city of Amsterdam, on
its grid and infrastructure. We can still see the mis-
takes that were done when tents were pitched there
70 years ago. That is not sustainable: a camp layout
is different from a city layout. I posted that picture
on Facebook and said that we should not repeat the
same mistakes. My Palestinian friends immediately
reacted and said that they could not have a proper
city developed there; because that would mean that
they would be giving up their right to return. But this

— 114 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

has nothing to do with your rights; it has to do with re-


specting the dignity of people developing and evolv-
ing. It is a delicate subject, and a very controversial
one; but forcing people in a limbo because you think
that one day they have to return is certainly not how
history works. Again, here in Venice, nobody talked
about returning to the places they ran from to seek
protection. The other day I was walking around Ber-
lin. Here, there is the Fischerinsel, and island where
they are now digging and doing archaeological re-
search. Who lived on this island? Huguenots. They
were chased out of France and they settled there. No-
body ever talked about having them return and hav-

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


ing to stay in a limbo while displaced. We must move
on and allow people to move on. I have been settling
and transforming the camps into villages and towns
in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Western Sahara, in all
its mess without solution, people have built up farms
and cities. There needs to be a complete shift in our
thinking and recognising that, in history, there have
always been losers and winners; but we should not al-
low losers to become losers forever, punishing them
for the rest of their lives. That is what we are doing
with our wrong perception of what refugees should
be doing: that the only solution is for them to return.
There is another solution. We must respect people
and allow them to move on, move forward, develop
and change. This is also how we are going to achieve
contexts in which there is more mix of cultures and
people, and make the world more connected.

I actually first started working with refugees back


in 1992. I had no real idea what the UNHCR was. I
was in southern Sudan distributing food aid for the
UN, in a displaced camp near the Kenyan border.
Then, a rumour that the army was moving forward
arrived, and we all fled: 20,000 South-Sudanese left

— 115 —
for Kenya. That night, they became refugees. That
night I became a refugee helper. I built a refugee
“storage” facility somewhere in the Turkana region, in
north-western Kenya, not knowing yet what it meant.
Today, that camp is known as Kakuma Camp. I was
putting the first tents into the ground, chasing some
local people away and bribing them with food so that
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

they would leave the space for the arriving Sudanese.


That camp, Kakuma, is still there today. It has over
200,000 people living in it, from over 40 nations, from
all over Africa. It is one of the biggest camps in the
world. My son, as a young man and aspiring water
engineer, went to the camp 20 years after this hap-
pened. He worked with the same NGO that I brought
as UNHCR field officer, when first setting up the water
distribution system. 20 years later, there still is the
same NGO, the same rubbish water system distribut-
ing water in the most uneconomical way, to people
who do not value the water because they don’t pay
for it. Also, the system is so obsolete than it even
looses water every now and then. The 500,000 refu-
gees in those two camps, Kakuma and Dadaab, have
been finally made allowed to work – and be self-sus-
taining and self-sufficient – only three days ago by
the Kenyan government.

I went back to Kenya in 2011. What is seen as a bur-


den in a country like Kenya, or in a country like Jor-
dan, is actually a huge opportunity to develop new
economic centres. Taking Kenya as an example: the
poorest parts of the country were where refugee
camps stood. These refugee camps have now be-
come, de facto, cities; but they are not recognised
as such. The people who have been living there for
over 20 years are still considered a burden. The in-
ternational aid business has put money here to store
them for over 20 years. Three-four-five hundred mil-

— 116 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

lion dollars a year that are not being used to trigger


change, in a area that is actually trying to change and
develop. How do we connect a camp – that is now a
city – with its environment and surroundings? This is
the task I think people, like you, should work on. This
is the task of the planners of today and tomorrow:
developing new population centres, recognising that
our history is made of refugee cities. Bringing togeth-
er the capacities of planners – people who have the
capacity to develop special zones and new economic
opportunities – is the future for people on the move.

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE

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— 118 —
— 119 —
Kilian K leinschmidt

CITIES IN EXILE - CITIES OF THE FUTURE


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 12 0 —
Manar Hammad

Semantics of patrimonial destruction



Manar Hammad

1. Liminar remarks — Manar Hammad


received his degree
in Architecture from
Destructions resulting from the current syrian con- the École nationale
flict1 raise an arduous interpretation problem. Facing supérieure des Beaux-
Arts in 1972 and his
the human, material and cultural waste, it is neces- PhD in Semiotics from
sary to disengage from the iterative accumulation of the Université de Paris
IV in 1976. Manar has
partisan reports, and to avoid the litany of degrada- served as a professor
tion tales. It is necessary to understand what is hap- at several institutions,

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
including the University
pening which is deeply disturbing. Analysis is only of Montréal, Université
possible if we put aside the pain surging at each de- du Québec à Montréal
struction, and if we avoid the partisan hardening that and École Nationale Su-
périeure d’architecture
invites violent retaliation. de Paris-La Villette,
as well as serving as
researcher at Kenchiku
Deliberate destructions manifest a common char- Kenkyusho (Building
acter: it is not as much the destroyed object that is Research Institute, To-
kyo, Japan) and Groupe
aimed at by the operation, but something else. This de Recherché Sémio
may be the site occupied by the object, or the func- Linguistiques (École
des hautes études
tion it fulfills, or at times the actors who use it or en sciences sociales,
value it. The monument is not destroyed for itself, Paris, France). He is the
but for something that is not itself. Who would hate cofounder of the Inter-
national Association for
stones? nobody hates a stone for what it is. Destruc- the Semiotics of Space,
tors aim at what it represents, and this is a seman- and the founder of Dar
Hammad, a research
tic mechanism. It follows that the tools of semiot- centre in Aleppo, Syria,
ics2 are pertinent to the interpretation of these non dedicated to scientific
research on northern
verbal manifestations. When a verbal message ac- Syria while promoting
companies destruction, a proposed interpretation is cultural exchange with
Syrian researchers and
available. But the successive facts quite often force intellectuals.
doubt upon the veracity of such declarations. Which
brings us back to the absence of interpretation and
imposes the necessity of an interpretive method.
We need analytical. The present (shortened) essay
proposes a semiotic approach, explicited in order to

— 12 1 —
1 — Begun in 2011, it facilitate its reuse elsewhere. The text is organised
is still continuing in
September 2017, date of by logical relations between the analytical concepts
redaction. used, not by a timeline nor by space. Some preci-
2 — For all terms and sions are needed before we describe the forms of
concepts of semiotics heritage destruction.
metalanguage, check in
the dictionnary written
by Greimas & Courtés, Semantic description and moral judgement
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

1983.

Any serene interpretation exacts the waiving aside of


moral judgements relative to events, in order to main-
tain a descriptive discourse. Semantic analysis aims
at comprehension. It does not take sides, neither at-
tacks nor defends anybody. It does not void terms
from a value that would have been naturally theirs,
it recognizes the value that a subject attributes to
an object implied into an interaction, and recognizes
that the same object may have another value for an-
other subject. Forming a judgement upon those val-
ues is another affair, formulated from another point
of view, not the perspectives of the parties involved,
but from a third stance, placed in a judicatorial posi-
tion in order to assess the merit of value and actions,
in this case destructive acts. Moral judgment still
remains available to the reader, but it is not an objec-
tive for analysis.

Understanding the destructive act

The act of destruction implies a destructor subject


and a destroyed object. But the latter implies a sub-
ject who used it, and a subject who enjoyed its mas-
tery and delegated its use. Any patrimonial monu-
ment presupposes also a historical subject who built
it. The destructive act itself may be looked upon at
various abstraction levels, ranging from logical nega-
tion (deep level) to the estimation of damages exten-
sion (manifestation level). In a dynamic perspective,

— 12 2 —
Manar Hammad

semiotic analysis identifies relations between the- 3 — DGMAS (Direction


Générale des Antiquités
ses terms and the operations transforming them. et des Musées de Syrie)
We do not intend to establish an inventory of Syria’s registers regularly the
state of Syria’s heritage
proven patrimonial destruction cases. We leave this through its network
task to agencies3 who have been doing that with of employees. APSA
has recorded damages
competence. We propose a description framework through a less formal
to which various forms of observable destructions network of local moti-
may be referred. vated informers. UNITAR
UNOSAT is a UN agency
that used satellite
Semantics of the destroyed patrimonial object images in order to make
a remote assessment
of heritage damages.
Our purpose being centered upon the damages made ASOR (American Society
for Oriental Research)
to heritage, it is necessary to delve into what is a pat-

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
had a special fund for
rimonial object, in particular into what makes it dif- the collection of both
types of information,
ferent from other objects. The UNESCO convention and the hiring of profes-
for world heritage (1972) refers to a cultural heritage sional archaeologists
of universal value (Art.1 § 1), wording that followed for identification, analy-
sis and comment. All
reference to the heritage of mankind “[…] Consider- these agencies publish
ing that parts of the cultural or natural heritage are online.

of outstanding interest and therefore need to be pre-


served as part of the world heritage of mankind as a
whole […]”. In the texts issued by this organization,
the expressions world, universal, mankind as a whole
are almost equivalent. But on the ground, the bellig-
erent parties do not act by texts, they operate by im-
plicit notions, in a situation that is over-complicated
by the fact that languages do not organize their vo-
cabulary in the same manner.

The patrimonial object presupposes a subject for


whom it is heritage. UNESCO posits mankind as sub-
ject in relation with exceptional objects, and recog-
nizes the local reponsibility of member states, who
appear as a category of collective subjects with re-
stricted spatial capacity. Political semantics undes-
core the said colective subjects, while the object is
invested with cultural value. But there is more. The

— 12 3 —
4 — cfr. M. Hammad, “La notion of patrimony, that corresponds to the english
Succession”, 2016.
word heritage, presupposes a subject anterior to the
subject actually in conjunction with the meant herit-
age4. It is this anterior subject who transmitted the
said object to the posterior subject who considers it
as heritage. Heritage is only what has been transmit-
ted by an ancestor, accepted and admitted by a pos-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

terior subject. In the case of monuments destroyed


in Syria, the identity of the anterior subject is often
ignored, or refused, by one of the warring parties. A
large part of patrimonial destructions in Syria is due
to the rupture of this relation presupposed between
present subject and anterior subject. The relation-
ship between collective subjects and their ancestors
is not simple. History shows recurrently that people
choose their ancestors among the anterior subjects
available. For example, around 1860, the French
chose the Gauls for ancestors, at the expense of the
Franks, who presented the double inconvenience of
having engendered aristocratic exploiters and hav-
ing left non-negligible progeniture on the other bank
of the Rhine river. In a similare manner, populations
choose their heritage: Arabs tend to prefer their non
material heritage (linguistic, religious, cultural, said
Turath) at the expense of their material built heritage.
All these choices, that determine the subject, his an-
cestors and his patrimonial objects, are semantic
choices. The question of heritage is fundamentally
a semantic one. A fortiori, the question of heritage
destruction.

Referring to the general questions cited above, the


mobile or non-mobile character of heritage seems
secondary. Nevertheless, we restrain our quest to
the case of real property, because mobility entails
complications related to the circulation of objects in
social space.

— 12 4 —
Manar Hammad

Narrative perspective on patrimonial destruction

We analyse acts of patrimonial destruction, not tales


relating such acts. Often, we do not have a verbal ac-
count, but a video sequence or a group of photographs.
When there is a tale, it is in Arabic, in English or in
French. Its linguistic expression is of no interest, we
concentrate upon its content level, where the sequence
of events is described in any of the verbal or non-ver-
bal means mentioned. The content level is indifferent
to the expressions that serve it as vehicle. The act of
patrimonial destruction is the nucleus of a narrative se-
quence that we consider as an uttered discourse. Our

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
description shall be syntactic, and we shall order the
analysed cases by their degree of semantic complex-
ity, i.e. by the number of actantial positions and by the
relations they entertain. In a destructive sequence that
happened, the recurring problem is the identification of
the destroying subject. When this is established, the
following question is its motivation. There are certainly
unintentional destructions, qualified as collateral, but
the number of deliberate destructions is sufficient to
occupy us. Often, the intent of the destroyer is not estb-
lished but results from an attribution. A complete nar-
rative chain, that allows to read events starting from
their end, is liable to dispell ambiguity.

We do not know of a destructive intent that is inscribed


in the direct relation between a subject and a given ob-
ject. All the cases that we know find their motivation
in a transitive indirect relation, where the destroyed ob-
ject is an intermediate instance between two opposed
subjects. The semantic charge of the object is to be
seen not in the matter constituting it, but in the terms
with which it has been associated in an anterior syn-
tactic chain. Let us give some examples in order to
clarify the point:

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— 12 6 —
— 12 7 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
- A monument is destroyed because the person who
built it is abhorred for some reason (foreign romans
for the city of Palmyra; shiite obedience for judge Ibn
al-Haššāb who coordinated the erection of Aleppo
Great Mosque minaret; ottoman wâli for the Madra-
sat Husrofiyat in Aleppo).
- A monument is destroyed because the person hon-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

ored in it is abhorred (pagan divinities for the tem-


ples of Palmyra; supposed roman victory for the
Grand Arch in Palmyra; Uways companion of Ali at
the battle of Saffin for a mausoleum in Raqqa).
- A monument is destroyed because the religious
practice celebrated in that place is condemned for
theological reasons (people come to ask the person
interred for an intercession to God, an act assimi-
lated to the association of a false divinity with God).

The contents vehicled by these examples are heter-


ogenous and do not form a semantic paradigm that
sheds light on built heritage. The analysis in elmen-
tary semes, and the identification of recurring semes
constituting isotopies, shows that religious and polit-
ical isotopies are legitimating, while military and eco-
nomical isotopies do not appear as such. Syntactic
relations are the only ones that produce a satisfac-
tory interpretation.

Widening the notion of heritage

Other destroyed buildings do not manifest the same


semes: schools, hospitals, granaries, industrial bak-
eries, power plants, bridges. Their destruction per-
tains to a different logic, because such buildings
serve the civilian population and do not entail the
preceding mechanisms. A military logic of destruc-
tion, aiming at economic infrastructures useful for
the war effort, can be discerned and must be added

— 12 8 —
Manar Hammad

to the analysis of patrimonial destructions. Such acts 5 — See G. Dumézil,


“Décrire la ville, écrire
aim at the action capacity of the opposed subject, le patrimoine”, 2016; E.
but we must recognize a patrimonial dimension in in- Benveniste, “Le vocabu-
laire des institutions
frastructures: even if they are functional, inscribed in indo-européennes”,
a hic et nunc syntax, they also have a recognizable 1969; M. Mann, “The
sources of social
cognitive dimension. They have been built to serve power”, 1986.
many generations: they are the heritage of future gen-
erations. Heritage cannot be restricted to the past, it
projects itself into the future. We have to widen the
notion of heritage, even if international conventions
seem to care only for the traces of the past. If the
past is important for the construction of identity, the
future is as important for the definition of a collec-

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
tive subject by projects that stabilize its trajectory in
time. Between past and future, cumulative memory
plays a major role.

Abovementioned examples illustrate destructions mo-


tivated by religious, political, economical and military
values, that is the four isotopies often found in the
description of culture5. But the point of view of archi-
tects upon patrimonial destructions lays accent upon
aesthetic qualities that do not pertain to the four men-
tioned isotopies. In other words, patrimonial destruc-
tion imposes to take into account the isotopy of plastic
form: the beautiful, the exceptional (UNESCO Conven-
tion 1972), the saliant lay foundation for value and dis-
tinguish it from a commonplace mass. This selects an
elite heritage, that makes room for a qualitative value,
superior to the standard four semantic isotopies, what
makes of it a meta-value, or an overvalued value. Bel-
ligerent parties are not sensitive to aesthetic values.
For them, it does not exist in general, it is suspended
(e.g. it is possible to bomb the old city of Sanaa in
Yemen, without consideration for its beauty). In a mili-
tary perspective, aesthetic value is not a negative val-
ue, it is not a value. It has been considered as a “value

— 12 9 —
6 — cfr. M. Hammad for the other” by the Islamic State when it destroyed
“Semantics of destruc-
tion”, in “Urbicide II”, the Grand Arch and the Tetrakionion in Palmyra6. Not
AUB, 2017, to press. a value for the subject of action, but recognized by the
subject as a value for the anti-subject.

Material heritage and human heritage


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Up to here, we have only considered material herit-


age. Archaeologists consider ancient monuments,
architects look at beautiful buildings, economists
count infrastructures, economic centers and indus-
trial zones. It could be reproached to these perspec-
tives the neglect of human patrimony. Presupposing
the superior value of humans compared to material
objects, such a reproach would manifest a moral
point of view. In as much as every selection presup-
poses its own logic, would it be necessary to put
those categories in competition in view of producing
a hierarchical order? These are not variables com-
muting in a single paradigm. In other words, there is
no choice to make between them, we should rather
consider the relations that they entertain in order to
precise their semantic and syntactic content.

Patrimonial destruction hurts those whose heritage


has been damaged. When the monuments of an area
are damaged, its inhabitants are forced back to the
state of people who have nothing but themselves. By
the reduction of their economic and cultural means,
they are forced to regress collectively and they are re-
duced. But this region is heir to an urban civilization
five millenia old, and its population does not breed
the project of regressing towards a nomadic state, as
Gengis Khan is said to have planned for them.

For the antique romans, a man reduced to slave-


hood was part of economic patrimony, so much so

— 13 0 —
Manar Hammad

that slaves figure in first place among the categories 7 — cfr. J. Teixidor, “Tarif
de Palmyre”, 1983.
of goods liable to pay a tax on Palmyra’s customs
tariff7. The question of human patrimony is no more
worded in such terms, but it is certain that during
war, from a state’s point of view, human capital has
an economical value: workpower, know-how, organi-
sational skills, culture and language. Nevertheless,
the dominant discourse today that privileges human
patrimony tends to consider only religious appar-
tenances, operating sectarian distinctions that divide
the population in rival subgroups. The talk is no more
about population but about fractions. In opposition,
the privilege givent to an archaeological heritage

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
perspective tends, with its accumulation of succes-
sive human groups on a single territory, to produce
a syncretic unifying semantic effect. Moreover, the
consideration of syntactic relations between men
and heritage produces a totalizing semantic effect.

A monuent erected in solid materials is intended to


perdure for a long time. In stone, it would last for
ten or twenty generations. It is built in order to fulfill
two functions: an immediate pragmatic function, a
differed cognitive memorial function. Therefore, the
destruction of a building is not only the destruction
of the means to perform a pragmatic function, but
also the destruction of the basis of a memorial func-
tion that aims at temporal continuity, comparable in
a certain way to the destruction of twenty genera-
tions of humans. Destruction of humans’ work may
be, from this point of view, more important than the
destruction of human beings, even if it is possible
to replace destroyed objects while nothing replaces
destroyed lives.

— 13 1 —
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— 13 2 —
— 13 3 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 13 4 —
— 13 5 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
8 — cfr. M. Hammad,
op. cit.
2. Forms of patrimonial destruction

In coherence with the semantic and syntactic ap-


proach adopted, whose principal lines have been
traced by A. J. Greimas, we shall use syntactic crite-
ria to present, in a formal logical order (neither chron-
ological nor spatial) a selection of events that hap-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

pened in Syria between 2011 and 2017, with some


patrimonial destructions that happened elsewhere.
Because destructions are not restricted to this sole
country. Without pretending to establish an exhaus-
tive inventory of destruction forms affecting herit-
age, we shall list such forms in an order based upon
the basic semiotic narrative scheme. If we consider
the sequence containing the principal event as an ut-
terance, its insertion context is enunciative. We shall
begin with the examination of utterance forms before
looking into enunciative analysis. Form description
starts with a syntactic brief, followed by examples
taken from recent events or from ancient history.

Before the list of twelve syntactic forms put into an


order reflecting their interior organisation, it seems
pertinent to present briefly the complexity of a
concrete situation that we have analysed in detail
elsewhere, namely the case of the ancient city of
Palmyra8. The destructions perpetrated there pre-
sent the limpidity of a geometric drawing, because
they were accomplished out of any combat con-
text. There were no enemy forces in confrontation,
and nobody can invoke an accident or a collateral
damage. In a site entirely controled by the Islamic
State, the destructions were deliberate, the objec-
tives selected, the execution methodical. First de-
structions were aimed at islamic mausolea and at
the local cemetary, with the invocation of reasons
related to rigorist interpretations of Islam: the de-

— 13 6 —
Manar Hammad

clared aim was to prevent the local muslim popu-


lation from accomplishing impious acts in those
spots. After that, destruction was directed towards
two antique sanctuaries (Baalshameen, Bel) and a
group of ancient funerary towers, with the argument
that in those places false divinites were associated
with God, which is contrary to Islam. But, contrary
to the previous cases, there was no local population
practicing the ancient rituals. Nevertheless, the offi-
cial declaration said that some possible foreigners
might come, in the future, to adore the false divini-
ties, and it was presently pious to make that impos-
sible. Later, destruction was ported to the Grand

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
Arch, to the Tetrakionion and to the antique theater.
In the absence of a pertinent religious reason, no
justificatory declaration was published. Analysis al-
lows to extract the underlying political and military
reasons. We shall not deal here with such complex
cases, and we shall make a selection of simpler
syntactic situations.

Attempt against the basic functional program

When a monument is built, it is destined to a collec-


tive subject that will use it for a given function, what
can be noted in a condensed fashion:

Fuction (Subject, Object) or F(S, O)

We shall first consider the case where violent ac-


tion is directed against the function of the build-
ing. This presupposes necessarily a change of the
actor-subject, while the building-object may remain
unchanged. Such transformations are possible in
peace time, but they take extreme forms in war time,
including sometimes the levelling of a building in or-
der to use its place for other ends.

— 13 7 —
Such a complex sequence happened in Aleppo, on
the southern border of the citadel. The process is
still evolving and may change character with future
decisions. In almost a year, more than ten neighbor-
ing buildings were destroyed, all by the same pro-
cess: an underground tunnel was quarried in order
to reach under the building, a large quantity of ex-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

plosives was detonated to destroy the monument.


Were thus destroyed a public bath (hammam Yal-
bugha al Nasiri, XIVth c), the sarai of ottoman period
(governmental purpose), a law-court complex (XXth
c), two teaching establishments (Madrasat Zahiri-
yat, XIIIth c; Madrasat Khusrofiyat, XVIth c), a suq bor-
dered by coffee shops (khan ash-Shunet), a former
hospital transformed into hotel. The list is not ex-
haustive. In at least four cases, the explosion crater
has a diameter and depth that erased the founda-
tions of the building, what precludes re-erection of
walls on the ancient substructures. The inventory of
functions accomplished in the concerned buildings
is so heterogenous that it is necessary to look for
an explanation elsewhere, in a functional change af-
forded by space itself. Since the individual sites are
adjoining each other, they draw a continuous arc on
the southern side of the citadel, in front of its main
gate. In consequence, it is not each destruction
that bears meaning, but the entire series: a prime
symbolic location has been cleared, and new build-
ing projects become possible. Considering that de-
structions have been committed by armed groups,
it is not possible to accuse the regime of preparing
to remodel the city. But it is possible to attribute
to the obscure sources, who have generously en-
dowed the armed groups, economic projects rela-
tive to this space. The sequence is still incomplete,
and analysis must take into account future events.
Change of function is here key to interpretation. The

— 13 8 —
Manar Hammad

function fulfilled by the building does not respond any 9 — cfr. M. Hammad,
“La privatisation de
more to the needs of a given subject, he has another l’espace”, 1998.
need to satisfy. The change is relative to the function,
10 — cfr. M. Hammad,
not to the object. In certain circumstances, it is pos- “La sémiotisation de
sible to reuse a building without destroying it, if it is l’espace”, 2013.
compatible with the new function. But when the form
is incompatible with the projected function, or if the
subject is indifferent towards the building itself, it is
possible to reuse its place after demolition. What ap-
pears to have a value in this second case is not the
building in its architectural configuration, but its place,
positioned in a wider economic or military space. In
other words, the use reveals two aspects of the monu-

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
ment, or two ways of considering it: following a per-
spective internal to the building (action in the archi-
tectural morphology, this being endowed with modal
manipulatory investments9); following a perspective
external to the building (action that profits from the
situation or place in relation to other places in town or
in the area). We have already identified both of those
two mechanisms in the semiotics of space10, in cases
unconnected to patrimonial destruction. It is here a lo-
cal manifestation of a general phenomenon.

Form 1: Unauthorized use of ancient monuments

In reference to the condensed formula F(S, O) record-


ing the function of a subject and an object, form 1
keeps the object invariant, while function and subject
are variants. When use is practical, the pragmatic per-
spective is dominant. But, for a monument pertain-
ing to heritage, the cognitive value of the monument
is deemed to be superior to any practical value liable
to be extracted from it. Therefore, we see contrariety
between the patrimonial value and the intrusive func-
tional value. The new use introduces a change from the
initial function, within the limits of compatibility allowed

— 13 9 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 14 0 —
— 14 1 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
11 — cfr. M. Hammad, by the object’s form, what entails often modifications
“Bel/Palmyra hom-
mage”, 2016. or alterations to the form, by addition, substraction ou
division of space. Palmyra’s site offers two examples
12 — cfr. M. Hammad,
“Palmyre, transforma- of this sort of prejudice to heritage, before the inter-
tions urbaines”, 2010. vention of archaeologists. The temenos of Bel sanc-
tuary had been invested since the twelfth century11,
by houses, while the temple’s cella was transformed
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

into Great Mosque, after having served as byzantine


church. The cella of Baalshameen sanctuary had been
used as byzantine church12, what had imposed to open
a new access door in the western wall, while the col-
onnaded pronaos was transformed into oriental apse.
Non-authorized use of a building is akin to a squat in
recent vocabulary. This reveals a distinction between a
functional subject, user of the building, different from a
subject master of the place, presupposed and placed at
a metalinguistic level. The authorization that the mas-
ter of the place does not grant to the functional subject
characterizes their relationship: one is superior to the
other, and figures as a source for the power-to-do (cfr.
Form 10). The functional subject, who installed himself
by his own authority, gives a proof of a wanting-to-do
that he does not detain from the master of the place. If
he deems his occupation legitimate, he presupposes a
superior stance of legitimation, opposable to the mas-
ter of the place. Reuse of a patrimonial building can be
more or less long, the initial function is liable to reap-
pear or to be preferred. The cognitive function remains
the dominant characteristic of a patrimonial building.

Form 2: Military use of a patrimonial


building’s site

Formally, from the perspective of what varies and


what does not vary in the formula F(S, O), Form 2
is very near to Form 1, the difference being military
pragmatic use of place. Therefore, all the preceding

— 14 2 —
Manar Hammad

analysis remains valid, adding the military isotopy and


its consequences. In fact, many citadels dating to XIIth
or XIIIth centuries (Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Crac des
Chevaliers) have been reused to military ends during
recent years in Syria. Notwithstanding their interior ar-
chitectural configuration, the ancient military positions
continue to have tactical advantages, as observation
positions, circulation hubs, relief natural defenses… In
Aleppo, mosque courtyards have been used to posi-
tion mortar guns: the weapon stays concealed in the
yard, the servers move easily around it, an observer
placed upon the nearby minaret can evaluate the preci-
sion of shoot in order to adjust it. In Aleppo too, stu-

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
dent rooms in Madrasat Khusrofiyat (built by master
Sinan) are said to have served as barracks.

The military function may be internal, i.e. for the action


accomplished in the said place (barracks, storehouse),
but it is fundamentally external: a place is used in order
to be able to do something elsewhere, and the spatial
dimension plays a dominant role. This pragmatic mili-
tary use manifests the modal value of a site (topologi-
cal position, altitude) in order to see (cognitive con-
trol) and shoot (pragmatic action) on another place.
Any military use inscribes the building in a polemical
iterative succession and inserts it automatically in a
chain of actions and reactions of war. What exposes
the building to destruction. When a military position
receives projectiles coming from a given source, it re-
ponds or it asks another military position to silence
its opponent. In such mechanisms, the chain of action
is ruled by the obligation to do, and the eventual patri-
monial value of environment does not enter into con-
sideration. Wherefrom derive the collateral damages.
If the preceding Form 1 installed a contrariety rela-
tion between cognitive patrimonial value and prag-
matic use value, the Form 2 considered here installs

— 14 3 —
13 — For the difference a relation of contradiction13 between patrimonial and
between contrariety and
contradiction relations, military values. This is why international conventions
see Greimas & Courtés, forbid the military use of patrimonial buildings, even
1983.
for a brief action.

Form 3: Modifications that adulterate a pat-


rimonial monument
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

In reference to the formula F(S, O), the modifications


of Form 3 affect all three variables, function, subject
and object. The modification of a patrimonial object
is adulterating when the change is such that the ob-
ject changes its identity, and can no more be said the
same. Such morphological modifications preclude
realisation of the initial function. It follows that the
relation between pragmatic uses, ancient and new,
becomes a relation of contradiction, not of contrari-
ety. Which transformations are admissible for a pat-
rimonial object, and which are not? There is no gen-
eral answer. Response is given case by case. War is
not a necessary condition for the realisation of such
forms of patrimonial destruction. Before the recent
troubles, a number of patrician mansions of Aleppo
and Damascus were transformed into restaurants or
hotels. The communitarian and private use of space
was replaced by a public non communitarian one.
The rythm of use and wear was accelerated, the in-
terior and exterior circulations modified, courtyads
covered. Mansions were adulterated.

Form 4: Build upon a patrimonial site

In reference to formula F(S, O), the patrimonial object


is obliterated. In its place or above it, another object,
non patrimonial, has been built to serve another func-
tion, to the benefit of another subject. The negation is
strong, operating on the function and both variables.

— 14 4 —
Manar Hammad

It serves pragmatic ends, not cognitive ones. In the


considered forms, numbered 1 to 4, we have degrees
of patrimonial change, where function varies between
quasi invariance and total obliteration. The array is
large, meaning effects multiple. During the last years,
we have seen in north-east Syria (Jazirat) bulldozers
levelling partially archaeological tells dating to Bronze
Age, in order to build private houses or schools, to re-
organize a military position, or in order to spread its
earth as manure on nearby arable land. A few years
ago, a governor of Aleppo ordered the construction,
in the middle of the citadel’s archaeological site, of
an open air theater with stone bleachers. He was thus

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
obliterating the underlying archaeological remains,
digging canalisations that disturbed the ancient stra-
ta, and importing the circulation of a great number of
viewers indifferent to the cognitive value of the place.
The living cities of Aleppo and Damascus hide a large
part of their past under the present constructions,
what pertains to Form 4, while we cannot tell with
precision when the process started and where. With
the recent destructions, a part of the archaeological
underground is exposed, as it happened recently in
Beirut. This last case showed that the exposed spac-
es are coveted by investors coming from abroad,
whose financial interests do not coincide with local
interests. Before reconstruction, an archaeological
excavation is in need, as it is advisable to preserve
what is endowed with a particular patrimonial value.

Pragmatic or cognitive interpretation of things

In the preceding analyses, we made a difference be-


tween a pragmatic value, associated with the use of
an architectural monument, and the cognitive value of
the same monument, the latter articulating its patri-
monial quality through the mechanisms of a cumu-

— 14 5 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 14 6 —
— 14 7 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
lative memory that integrates it in a chain of inital
production (subject who built the object) and suces-
sorial transmission (ancestors bequeathing heritage).
Another sort of cognitive value, inscribed in a change
of perspective, may be extracted from an archaeologi-
cal site that encloses, within accumulated detrictic
deposits, the remains of one or more monuments. If
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

the syntactic formula F(S, O) still condenses the situa-


tion, the perspective change entails the duplication of
object O into two distinct objects, O1 (archaeological
object) and O2 (soil enclosing O1), correlated with the
duplication of subject S (into S1 and S2) who oper-
ate in two different manners (F1 and F2). The situa-
tion does not focalize attention on a single monument
O1, but on what remains of an object O1, enclosed into
archaeological strata O2. Two cases are to be distin-
guished in relation to the the duplicated object:

- A pragmatic subject S1 looks for transportable ob-


jects O1, liable to be sold for their exchange value,
and considers that archaeological strata O2 are rub-
bish with no value, or an obstacle hiding the valued
object. What allows him to disturb the strata O2
(destroy their order, change their place) in search of
valuable objects O1. Function F1 (S1, O1) is thence
an economical function of exploration of the under-
ground, in search of exchangeable goods.
- A cognitive subject S2 explores the archaeological
strata O2 in order to extract informations inscribed in
them, specially relative chronology, because the spatial
order of strata depends upon the temporal order of their
deposition. Some material included in the layers deliv-
ers information on absolute chronology, on fauna and
flora, on society. Objects O1 found inserted in layers O2
are dated by this context. Therefore, knowledge of O1 is
dependant upon knowledge of O2, in a necessary rela-
tion. Archaeology being conceived not as a quest for

— 14 8 —
Manar Hammad

material objects, but as a quest for a lost culture, the


layers O2 are liable to contain more information than
objects O1. In all cases, objects O1 are not considered
for their exchange value, but for their cognitive patri-
monial value. They are therefore incessible.

This archaeological work is semiotic, passing from


the material stratigraphic elements to a historical
content, that is projected on the copresent objects.
The function F2 (S2, O2) is therefore a complex one,
pragmatic and cognitive simultaneously, collecting
objects O1 for their patrimonial value and analyzing
strata O2 for their informational value. Which presup-

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
poses, for subject S2, a scientific competence that
enables him to interpret material traces in order to
extract information on the societies that succeeded
each other on site. If objects O1 deliver information
on the lost material culture, the layers O2 deliver in-
formation on the material and immaterial culture that
enclosed them. The destruction of archaeological
sites affects the remains of material an immaterial
culture. In this perspective, disturbance of archaeo-
logical strata is tantamount to cognitive destruction,
be it voluntary or involuntary. What brings us back to
the forms of patrimonial destruction.

Form 5: Destructive exploitation of archaeo-


logical sites

In april 2015, APSA called attention upon an exploita-


tion permit delivered by the Islamic State. The infor-
mation was reproduced in a bulletin of ASOR and lat-
er argumented in the Middle East Forum. Laïla Salih
(Mossul museum) collected such documents and
showed them at Urbicide II meeting in Beirut (2017).
Such permits hold the header of Diwan ar-Rikaz, that is
the equivalent of a central administration for mineral

— 14 9 —
14 — The romans used resources. A permit allows a named citizen to work
to levy a tax of one-
quarter. on a named site in view of extracting antiquities liable
to be sold. The permit stipulates that the beneficiary
must pay to the Islamic State one-fifth of his findings
in the underground. This one-fifth part or Khums con-
forms with a tradition going back to the foundation of
the first islamic state14 by the Prophet Muhammad in
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Yathrib-al-Madinat: the community levied, for public


use, one-fifth of war spoils and natural resources.

Such documents display forms of legality: they are


emitted by the central administration of a State, the
juridical frame is attributed to a legitimating tradi-
tion. From a semiotic point of view, we recognize a
subject S1 receiveing a mandate from an Addresser
who gives him competence with the modality of
power-to-do an action whose economic perspective
is aimed at O1. The accomplishment of the mission
is to be validated by a judicatorial Addresser who
levies for public use one-fifth of the findings. Eco-
nomical and juridical isotopies articulate the entire
sequence. There is nowhere a hint towards the cog-
nitive and patrimonial values of the objects. Once
they are put on a commercial circuit, the objects
suffer a double loss:

- They lose their patrimonial status, becoming ces-


sible, and their trace is potentially lost on the market;
- They are detached from the context that determines
their origin, date, ancient use.

In other terms, there is destruction of information. Not


a material destruction of the ancient object, but de-
struction of the information relating to it. Destruction
operates on the non material part of the valued object.
The name of the administration Diwan ar-Rikaz is
voluntarily archaic, identified by the exploitation of

— 15 0 —
Manar Hammad

mineral resources. If this adminstration has authority


on archaeological sites, it is because these are as-
similated to mineral sites : men dig there hoping to
find objects with economic value. In other words, the
antique objects are assimilated to objects of nature,
like silver or gold ore. The quality of objects of cul-
ture has been substracted, denied. They have been
stripped of their cognitive value, not only the value
that comes from the archaeological context O2, but
from any patrimonial value. It has been destroyed by
an administrative act. It follows that the Islamic State
does not keep objects O1: they have no patrimonial
value for it, and they are released on the commercial

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
circuit, at market price.

In this perpective, the archaeological layers O2 en-


closing the valued object O1 are not only valueless
objects, they are an anti-object hiding the object, or
an anti-subject devoid of will, who covers O1 and
hinders its view. Therefore, it is advisable to destroy
O2 and to put it aside or discard it. What destroys
al the information it contained. After the recapture of
Nabi Yunus mausoleum site in Mossul, that had been
pulverized by the Islamic State, the iraqi archaeologists
found underneath it a network of tunnels that were first
attributed to the Islamic State. Then they had to admit
that some of these galleries were from the ninteeenth
century, when Botta and Rassam proceeded this way in
order to obtain quickly extractible objects : a tunnel is
less expensive than a systematic horizontal excavation
of site. The hill that held the mausoleum appeared to
be an assyrian palace mass. The galleries dug throug-
out have destroyed archaeological strata, even passed
through non identified antique walls of crude bricks.
Pompei and Herculanum had already been dug by
tunnels in this manner during the eighteenth century,
when they were accidentally discovered. We attribute

— 15 1 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 15 2 —
— 15 3 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
to ignorance these ancient destructions. What puts in
evidence the necessity of a scientific competence for
the cognitive subject in order to identify the valued pat-
rimonial object.

Form 6: Distructive looting of archaeological sites


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

From an epistemic point of view, the looting of ar-


chaeological sites does not differ from the preced-
ing case. Except that, from a juridical point fo view,
Form 5 would have been legal, while Form 6 is illegal,
operating without the authorization of a superior Ad-
dresser source. Therefore, ignorance would not be
that of high instances of a State, but the ignorance of
looters who look for quick profit, with minimum pain.
But the real situation is not as simple. Without the
presence of an active market for antiquities, there
would be no looters. It is the demand of collectors
rich in money, that serves as engine, and the collec-
tivity of merchants and collectors that functions as
Addresser mandater for the looters. This is an eco-
nomical instance, not a political one, but it must be
identified as such.

In brief: while the looter looks for an immediate


economical profit, he destroys an irreplaceable
stratigraphic complex that holds patrimonial in-
formations. He destroys memory, or the support
of memory, with no intention of doing so, not even
the conscience that he is doing that. But he does it
nonetheless. This is a collateral cognitive destruc-
tion, due to an economic process, not a military
process. All looting actions have this double effect:
insert into an invisible circuit patrimonial objects
(causing them to disappear), destroy the related
memory. It has been the case in Doura-Europos,
Apamea, Palmyra and in other sites of Syria.

— 15 4 —
Manar Hammad

Form 7: Cognitive archaeological destruction

A third form of cognitive destruction is known to hap-


pen, more complex and less visible. It takes the form
of an authorized archaeological excavation, led by
professionnal excavators. The mandating State (Ad-
dresser) becomes Addressee when it keeps objects
O1. At the start of excavations in Mesopotamia, in
the nineteenth century, excavators used to destroy
the crude brick architecture in search of stone ob-
jects. Until the excavations of André Parrot in 1934,
who devised the methods and techniques of excava-
tion in crude earth, nobody knew how to make the

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
difference between crude bricks standing in place
(making an antique architecture) from fallen crude
bricks, that were not anymore in place. Know how to
make the difference between O1 objects and O2 ob-
jects constitutes the cognitive competence of the
excavator in crude earth.

But there is more. The antique earthen architecture,


excavated as patrimonial object O1, becomes ex-
posed to weather and degrades inevitably. While it
was in service during antiquity, it was regularly main-
tained with successive protective coatings. When
it has been excavated and patrimonialized, it is no
more question of coating it anew. It stays in the open
air and it degrades. What is tantamount to say that
the excavation of a patrimonial object condemns it
to degradation. Unless it can be protected under a
cover that isolates it from weather agents. Such an
operation depends upon the dimensions of the said
object, the techniques and the budget available.

The situations considered entail involuntary destruc-


tions. There are situations where archaeological de-
structions are voluntary. At the start of the twentieth

— 15 5 —
century, Walter Andrae took off the parthian strata of
Assur city (after drawing them) in order to reach the
assyrian levels of the site, that had more interest for
him. In Baalbek, Collart and Coupel took off the re-
mains of the byzantine basilica (that encumbered the
large staircase of Baal-Jupiter cella) in order to restore
the temenos of the antique temple, with its great altar
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

and its small altar. In Palmyra, Henri Seyrig took off


the traces of the Grand Mosque that occupied the cel-
la of Bel temple, in order to uncover the pagan temple.
In all these cases, a choice has been made between
an archaeological object and another. Any building
that covers another is posterior to the covered one.
It follows that people regularly take off posterior
monuments, in order to see anterior ones. Rare are the
cases where the superior building is reconstructed at
a distance (obelisc temple in Byblos, displaced by M.
Dunand in order to access the underlying strata).

In a recurring manner, it is the older heritage that is


overvalued. But there are cases where the choice
is determined by ideology: in palestinian territories,
israeli authorities regularly destroy islamic and/or
byzantine remains when they find underneeth lay-
ers attributable to a jewish occupation. Thus, they
destroy the traces of byzantine and islamic life in
order to promote the single jewish presence on the
land, and to make disappear an interruption of two
thousand years. The process is voluntary and results
from an ideological choice. In such cases, a prior
choice, at the level of acceptable ancestors, presides
to the choice of preserved objects. What is kept par-
ticipates to the construction of a historic discourse
with non verbal means, in order to constitute a cogni-
tive subject heir of the said heritage. In other words,
the patrimonial subject is not entirely formed before
the archaeological object has been excavated and pr

— 15 6 —
Manar Hammad

served, he is constructed and qualified by the said


object. At the expense of another possible patrimoni-
al discourse. An alternative solution, in stead of this
selective cognitive destruction, would be to preserve
traces of the different periods encountered, the ar-
chaeological stratification expressing the synthetic
character of a subject heir to spatial heritage. In
such a case, the subject would not be preconceived,
he would not determine heritage, but would be deter-
mined by it. A non truncated heritage would play an
active role in the subject’s identity.

Before action, the modalities that make the

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
subject’s competence

In the standard model of narrative process, the se-


quence realizing action is preceded by a sequence
constituting the subject’s competence. This trans-
lates initially in the acquisition of a virtualizing modal-
ity, recognized as will-to-do when it is inherent to the
subject, as obligation-to-do when it is exterior. After
that comes the acquisition of actualizing modalities
as power-to-do (authorized excavations) and know-
to-do (archaeological formation) lines. We have seen
hereabove various cases of will, obligation, power
and know how, while analysis was centered upon ac-
tion and its interpretation. We shall center here our
attention upon the modalities that constitute compe-
tence prior to action.

When military language makes a difference between


principal objective and collateral damage, it makes
a difference between objects destroyed by explicit
will and objects destroyed without explicit will. But
military discourse tends to replace will by obligation,
what implies the absence of responsibilty of the im-
mediate subject, the ultimate responsibility being re-

— 15 7 —
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— 15 8 —
— 15 9 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 16 0 —
— 16 1 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
verted to a mediate subject, i.e. the authority having
emitted the order. It is the only one to want, the infe-
rior ranks must. What remains disputable in regard to
circumstances and values involved. In a juridical or
moral perspective, the will implies the responsibility
of the subject, while the involuntary character dispels
his responsibility. All discussions about the voluntary
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

or involuntary character of damages are motivated


by a moral project, not by an interpretive one, that
aims at the establishment of responsibilities.

Form 8: Voluntary destructions /vs/ collat-


eral or involuntary damages

Collateral patrimonial destructions pertain to the mil-


itary isotopy. They are invoked as excuse by each bel-
ligerent party when it is accused by the other party of
destroying material heritage or human beings. Dur-
ing the syrian conflict, the government has followed
the policy of silence about damages, while the other
party multiplied communication actions. As result,
we have received abundant news about destructions
attributed to the regime, and less information about
symmetric destructions. But this disequilibrium re-
sults from discursive policies relative to information.
The consultation of complete sources would deliver
more balanced results, even if we can not establish
a net result to date. For example, in a precise case:
the destruction of the minaret of the Grand Mosque
of Aleppo, that stood on a front line stable for a few
months, has been attributed to each belligerent party
by the opposing party. While there are photographs
attesting the presence of a surveyance position, and/
or of a shooting position on top of the minaret, there
are no documents capable of attributing in a defini-
tive fashion the destructive action to one fo the war-
ring camps. Some analysts finished by coyly attribut-

— 16 2 —
Manar Hammad

ing the said destruction to the abundance of shots 15 — “ASOR weekly


report 24”, pp. 30-34.
exchange in the vicinity of the minaret. What associ-
ates both sides into one act. 16 — Ivi, pp. 10-11-12.

17 — Ivi, pp. 6-7-8.


Form 9: Voluntary destructions and virtual-
izing modalities 18 — Ivi, pp. 65-75.

The destruction of islamic monuments at Tabqa and


Aleppo, as early as december 2014, provide clear cut
cases. In Aleppo15, an islamic mausoleum and adjoin-
ing tombs, in Madrasat Atabikiyat (also said Kiltawi-
yat) were destroyed with sledge-hammers, opened and
emptied from their funerary content. In the outskirts

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
of Damascus16, a similar mausoleum was destroyed
with sledge-hammers. In Tabqa17 on the Euphrates, a
number of tombs in a recent active cemetary were de-
stroyed with sledge-hammers and levelled to ground.
In Palmyra18, in june 2015, two islamic mausolea
were destroyed. In the palmgrove, the mausoleum of
Chams-ed-Din Chakas, and the mausoleum of Mu-
hammad bin Ali on a hill north-west out of city, were
levelled by explosive charges. Photographs show the
deliberate character of operations. Nevertheless, justi-
fication by theological reasons (tombs must stay near
the ground) install a religious obligation-to-do: a good
muslem must destroy such monuments. Considering
that the source of obligation is divine, the act is said
just and legitimate. The subject realizing it is in no way
a culprit, he is even meritorious in doing it.

For those who suffer such acts like as many aggres-


sions to their heritage or to their parents, the Islamic
State imposes obligations that appear tantamount to ob-
structions to their liberty. Recevied as undue and overly
rigorist, such obligations ground the refusal opposed
by populations to the direction of the Islamic State. To
the obligation proposed responds unwillingness. The

— 16 3 —
19 — cfr. M. Hammad, antagonism between two collective subjects is thus
“Urbicide II”, AUB, 2017,
in press. identified at the level of virtualizing modalities. Two
perspectives are opposed, what is valued by the first
20 — Ibidem.
is undervalued by the other19.

Form 10: Voluntary destructions


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

A will-to-do without an obligation-to-do is manifested


by the destructions perpetrated at the south perim-
eter of Aleppo citadel (§ 2.1). Origin diversity of the
monuments destroyed (Ayyubid, Mamluk, Ottoman
foundations, recent buildings) would invite to sup-
pose that, beyond those various instances of ancient
government, it is the abstract actor government or
state that is aimed at, in a sort of syncretic anar-
chism. A will-to-do issuing from an undifferenciated
basis and directed against an undifferenciated State.
The destructive method used in these cases merits
interest: all those ancient monuments, well visible
at the south periphery of the large dry moat sur-
rounding the citadel, have been destroyed by invis-
ible underground galleries that started from a farther
periphery. The symmetry within visibility category is
startling and recalls the role played by the visibility of
Palmyra monuments in their destruction20. In Aleppo,
those actions destroyed visible buildings by invisible
means. What suggests a kind of enjoyment in war
action, a will-to-do exacerbated by a technical power-
to-do. It is not uninteresting to recall that the people
of Aleppo have been known during the crusades for
their skill as sappers digging galleries under the de-
fenses of adverse fortifications.

Form 11: Demonstrations of power-to-do

The interpretation of destruction at the periphery of


Aleppo citadel has led to evoke the euphoria that may

— 16 4 —
Manar Hammad

appear at the realisation of a spectacular power-to-


do. In general, when you give somebody the capacity
to do something, i.e. a modal power-to-do, he is keen
to use it in order to enjoy his new power. In a manner
symmetrical to the act of construction, that demon-
strates the power to do of the builder subject, the act
of destruction demonstrates the power to destroy of
the destroyer subject. These two demonstrations are
symmetrical. On the abstract level, they both reflect
one single mechanism, manifested in a positive or a
negative way. The pragmatic demonstration of the
subject’s capacity to act asserts his subject status
towards his allies and faithfulls, as well as towards

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
his enemies. It fulfills a function fundamental for the
subject in his universe.

In Palmyra, local informants say that three explosive


attempts were needed before bringing down the tem-
ple of Bel. A failure in destruction would have had a
disastrous effect on the Islamic State. What brings
us back to one last point: the heritage destruction act
has an utterance value that goes beyond the dimen-
sion of the uttered destruction. All the destruction
sequence has a communication value, between an
Enunciator-Addresser and an Enunciatee-Addressee,
that we need to describe.

Form 12: The relation with the Enunciatee-


Addressee

Beyond the destructive sequence that constitutes a


non verbal utterance where the subject is in relation
with an object, the destructive act is inscribed in an
enunciation sequence where the subject addresses
the destructive act to another subject, whose her-
itage is destroyed. Addresser and Addressee are
opposed. It is the case between armed groups and

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— 16 6 —
— 16 7 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
21 — Ibidem. the regime in the syrian framework, or between the
22 — Theater and Islamic State and the West in a wider international
Theory derive from framework21.
Greek Thea = see, view,
speculate, contemplate.
It is the existence of such a framework, theatrical in
nature22, that exacts visible objects to destroy and
selects heritage objects as target because they are
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

valued by the enemy. Different valuations appear to


make a necessary condition for the deployment of
this kind of conflict. Beyond the transitory objects
destroyed, the ultimate conflict is led in the social
space, not in the physical space of objects. Analysis
of the Great Arc of Palmyra destruction, together
with the Tetrakionion and the Theater, shows that
the fight is not inscribed on the religious isotopy
but on the political and military isotopies. Recruit-
ment by the Islamic State of volunteers in the West
is tantamount to partial destructions of the West,
ultimate anti-subject, for a demographic wear after
heritage wear.

The complete enunciative sequence begins with a


provocation, where S1 imposes to S2 a conflictual
relation, through the realisation of an act that S2
can not let go without response. Once the conflict
is installed, it is entertained with a chain of meas-
ured destructions. The conflict continues as long as
S1 and S2 continue in their physical existence, or in
their antagonic will. The durative modal antinomy
translates into bleeding war: the means of S1 and
S2 are eroded. What entails a more and more exten-
sive destruction of heritage, as long as the adver-
sary has not been eliminated, or his program been
eliminated. In other words, this affects the subjects
S, the objects O and the programs F of the enuncia-
tive interaction F(S, O) framing the heritage destruc-
tion utterance, object of our analysis.

— 16 8 —
Manar Hammad

3. Conclusions 23 — M. Hammad, 2017,


op. cit.

Syria is not the only country where material heritage


has been in trouble. But the patrimonial richness of
Syria, and the duration of combats there, have caused
a variety of damages where we have tried to find se-
mantic order. Our objective is not to make sense of
all events in Syria, but to use those events in order to
make a description of patrimonial destruction forms.
The case of Palmyra had put in evidnce the polemical
interaction between the Islamic State and the West23,
two entities exterior to Syria.

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
Reasoned analysis puts aside partisan and passion-
ate perspectives. Syntactic descriptions aim towards
understanding, and we hope to have approached
such results through the description of the principal
mechanisms. In this way, we hope to have produced
a better understanding of patrimonial objects. The
cognitive dimension, where additive memory takes
charge of the succession of events and actors, plays
a major role in building heritage, while the pragmatic
dimension characterizes non patrimonial buildings.

Two insufficiencies incite prudence. First, this war


did not reach an end, while the end of events deter-
mines their meaning, and history is written by the
winners. Second, we have had only a partial access
to events, or rather to verbal and non verbal narra-
tives that depend upon the points of view of their nar-
rators. The multiplication of points of view insures
a certain degree of objectivation, but the result is
still to be validated. As an alternate procedure, the
explicitation of the actors points of view, and of the
analytical perspectives, allows to confront interpre-
tations and to enlarge the meaning horizon. Syrian
actors seem to play the active roles, but a number of

— 16 9 —
exterior actors seem to loom behind the scene. We
may hope for new lights when the identity of axterior
actors, and of their interests, would be unveiled. If
there has been so many patrimonial monuments de-
stroyed, it is because a part of action was decided
outside, by actors that had no patrimonial relation
with what has been destroyed.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

At the figurative level, the visibility of monuments


plays a determining role in destructions, while the
descriptive isotopies of culture (politics, military, re-
ligious, economic) organize the destructive sequenc-
es, and the modal logics (partitive/participative) ac-
count, by the dominance of one or the other, for the
symmetrical character of fights that are expressed
through patrimonial destructions.

We shall not try to summarize here in conclusion the


results obtained in the analysis. It is important never-
theless to recall that their validity depends upon the
method adopted. Semantics and syntax, put at work
through the perspective of what has been called the
Semiotics School of Paris, allowed us to project a ra-
tional light on dysphoric events resulting from war.
If this brings to the reader a better understanding,
through the unraveling of what appeared entangled be-
forehand, our first objective would have been reached.

— 17 0 —
Manar Hammad

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Paris, 2014, pp. 163-171.
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— 17 1 —
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Hammad M., “Sémantique des institutions arabes (du croire, du pouvoir)”,


Geuthner, Paris, 2017, p. 214.
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des origines au milieu du XIX° siècle”, Geuthner, Paris, 1941, p. 302.
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1946, p. 330.

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— 17 3 —
Manar Hammad

S E M A N T I C S O F PAT R I M O N I A L D E S T R U C T I O N
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 17 4 —
Nasser Rab b at

Ethics of intervention: framing the


debate on reconstruction in Syria

N asser Rabbat

Syria today is cruelly punished for its heroic yet naïve — Nasser Rabbat is the
uprising of 2011 by an intransigent sectarian regime Aga Khan Professor
and the Director of the
and its scheming allies fighting against a hodge-

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
Aga Khan Program for
podge of brutal fundamentalist movements backed Islamic Architecture at
MIT. An architect and a
by obscurantist states, all operating under the um- historian, his scholarly
brellas of the two superpowers, the US and Russia, interests include the his-
tory and historiography
coldly settling their differences at the expense of Syr- of Islamic architecture,
ia and its people. Indeed, the country has paid dearly art and culture, urban
history, and post-coloni-
in the form of hundreds of thousands dead and mil- al criticism. He teaches
lions injured, maimed, imprisoned, or forced to im- lecture courses on
migrate. No city, village, or historic site has been various facets of Islamic
architecture, and holds
left untouched, and many have sustained so heavy a seminars on the history
damage that they are either lost for good or they will of Islamic urbanism and
contemporary cities,
take the work of a generation or two to restore. This orientalism, historiog-
has been thus far the most violent and bloody catas- raphy, and the issue of
meaning in architecture.
trophe of our young twenty-first century. In his research and
teaching, he presents
architecture in ways that
Yet, despite the mounting despair about the situation illuminate its interaction
today, it is vital to counter and debunk the forces of with culture and society,
destruction and erasure of memory. After all, Syria has stressing the role of hu-
man agency in shaping
managed through its long history to nurture a unique that interplay.
homeland where people of diverse religious, ethnic,
and cultural background lived together and exchanged
views, beliefs, and art and architecture. The mate-
rial heritage of Syria, celebrated, neglected, battered,
bombed, and wantonly or collaterally destroyed, still
reveals the cultural continuity that has marked the
country from Late Antiquity to the very recent past.

Through successive metamorphoses from Aram,


Phoenicia, and Assyria, to Hellenistic Seleukia, to Ro-
man and Byzantine Oriens, to Islamic Bilad al-Sham,

— 17 5 —
and on to a truncated modern Syria, the country has
accumulated many interrelated cultural and religious
traditions. Some flourished for a long time and radi-
ated their influence near and far. Others shone bright-
ly for a brief moment before migrating or disappear-
ing, leaving behind striking architectural traces. Still
others inhabited small niches in the land and evolved
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

quietly to emerge in modern times as unique cultural


instances of particularly Syrian mini-cultures. All,
however, contributed to the rich intercultural history
of Syria, a history that in turn bespeaks the heteroge-
neous genealogies of the country’s multiple cultures,
and a history that has been seriously challenged in
the last couple of years.

All along, and for the fifteen centuries of Islamic his-


tory, Syria remained at the heart of events. Its major
cities, especially Damascus and Aleppo, had become
premier centers of Islamic learning, where the study
of theology, jurisprudence, literature, history, and mys-
ticism flourished, and where scholars and students
flocked from and radiated back to every part of the
Islamic World. It was the last stage on the hajj routes
before reaching the Hijaz for most of the countries of
the eastern and northern parts of the Islamic world,
and pilgrims and merchants crowded its cities and
trade centers in every pilgrimage season forming an
impressive microcosm of the Islamic nation. The West
dreamed its romantic Orient on its image and repro-
duced it in scholarship, literature, art, fashion, fanta-
sies, but also in trade and adventurous travel destina-
tions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

But above all, Syria’s mountain chains and valleys have


long provided safe havens to persecuted religious and
ethnic groups from all over the Islamic World. Thus,
over the centuries the country has become home to

— 17 6 —
Nasser Rab b at

an array of minority groups that do not exist outside


the natural borders of Syria, except for their exten-
sions into adjacent countries, such as the Maronites,
Druze, Alawites, Yazidis, Assyrian/Chaldean and/or
Syriac Christians, and Ismailis, in addition to sizeable
numbers of Kurds and Turkmen, plus Greek Muslims
and Circassians who arrived with the collapse of the
Ottoman Empire and its loss of their ancestral homes

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
in the late nineteenth century, when some Syrian mi-
norities were pushed to immigrate to the New World
because of that same Ottoman collapse.

After the Allied victory in World War I, the French and


British divided the Ottoman Arab provinces, including
the land known today as Syria, between them in the
infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement. As a result, Syria
lost what the Syrian National Congress said in 1920
was the country’s “natural extensions” in Lebanon,
Palestine, and Jordan. In 1939, on the eve of World
War II, France ceded more land in northern Syria, in-
cluding the city of Antioch, the old Seleucid capital
of Syria and the Seat of the Syrian Orthodox Church,
to Turkey. When independence finally came in 1946
after much struggle, the Syrians were left with a
smaller nation-state, one that the colonizers had cre-
ated somewhat artificially. Nonetheless, it did inherit
the old name of Syria and the burden of its long and
variegated history. Since then, Syrian national poli-
tics have never been able to reconcile the geopoliti-
cal reality within which they had to operate with the
memories, real and imagined, of the glorious past on
a larger plot of land.

The trouble started immediately after the Arab defeat


and the establishment of Israel in Palestine in 1948.
The defeat caused further cracks in the already em-
battled Syrian polity and sense of self and led to a se-

— 17 7 —
ries of military coups, the last of which was in 1970
when General Hafez al-Assad toppled his comrades
of the Baath Party and seized power. Al-Assad man-
aged to rule Syria singlehandedly for 30 years against
great odds. This was achieved through a mixture of
oppression, patronage of select social groups, and a
widespread cult of personality that elevated him to
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

a demigod. This complex structure is what al-Assad


bequeathed to his son Bashar in 2000. But where the
father maintained a careful balancing act in his in-
ternal and external policies, the son’s rash decisions
lost him the initial goodwill of both the Syrians and
the international community.

Thus, it was no surprise that, in March 2011, the


Syrians, emboldened by the Arab revolutions, finally
rose against what they considered the corrupt and
despotic Assad regime. His response proved as
brutal as it was shortsighted. The militarization he
initiated soon entered a vicious cycle, as defections
greatly increased and were countered by ever more
violence by the regime. Islamization, fired by the
regime’s partisan reaction, followed militarization.
Eventually, world powers, fundamentalist regional
states, and terrorist groups with agendas larger
than Syria became involved.

As a result, the country is in ruins, and the globally


managed civil wars continue. But the losses to hu-
manity are deeper than the overwhelming destruc-
tion and killing alone. The Syrian mosaic that encap-
sulated in its reduced geography a multiculturally
intertwined and integrated history is being subjected
to attrition and amputation today. Millions of Syrians
have left, some to neighboring countries, and others
to the West. Many will never return. Meanwhile, the
warring factions are trying to forcefully define new

— 17 8 —
Nasser Rab b at

geographies, ethnically or religiously cleansed and


ideologically domesticated. These envisioned geog-
raphies undermine the Syrian history and entail its
rewriting on myopic or downright false basis.

This is of course an unusual, and unusually long, in-


troduction to the topic of Ethics of Intervention while
the current civil wars are going on, as many agen-

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
cies are attempting, and after the wars wind down, as
many more agencies are planning. But it is necessary
in order to set the issues of reconstruction, preser-
vation, rehabilitation, and resettling in their proper
historical and political contexts lest the ethics that
needs to guide them is reduced to a set of boxes to
be checked on a form as part of the routine of in-
tervention. In fact, any discussion of these issues is
per force predicated on the historical, political, and
ideological trajectories that led to the destruction in
the first place and on the politics of identity that pre-
pared the soil for and fueled those events, and this is
what happened in Syria.

The facile notions of recovery and rebuilding that


depend on a secure and cohesive national identity,
which has already resolved the question of its par-
ticular history and geography and obtained the na-
tional consensus on both, is hard to sustain today,
as both history and geography are being contested,
reclaimed, and reconfigured as framers of new, com-
peting, and even warring identities by various parties
in the Syrian war. Consequently, the process of re-
construction and the areas to be reconstructed are
being divided and re-appropriated, and the unfortu-
nate parts of the country that fall out of the new iden-
tities’ boundaries or in some identitarian no-man’s
land are being exploited, ignored, or downright fur-
ther destroyed in the hope of creating new realities

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— 18 0 —
— 18 1 —
Nasser Rab b at

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
on the ground. Yet, the selectivity of the destruction,
the indifference, and sometime the cheer approval,
of a large percentage of the people whose presumed
country is being destroyed, and the complicity of all
political powers active in Syria in these heinous acts
suggest that not only the ethics of reconstruction
need to be brought up and enforced in any future in-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

tervention, but also the unethicality of the destruction


needs to be spelled out, explained, and addressed.

This is not a sudden downturn in morality that has


afflicted the Syrian people collectively, even though
it has come to the surface lately with the crumbling
of law and order, just like it did in so many other
conflicts in modern history. The road to it, however,
was paved with good intentions, with generations of
modernizers, thinkers, politicians, artists, and educa-
tors working towards instilling a sense of citizenship
among their people before and after the establish-
ment of the new Syrian republic. To that end, they
debated the adaptation of new citizenship principles
to their fledgling nation that was rising from the detri-
tus of the Ottoman Empire and later the French Man-
date and rediscovering its Arab heritage. They sifted
through centuries of European political theorizing,
adopting, adapting, and appropriating from it for their
own purposes. They developed legal frameworks, po-
litical mechanisms, school curricula, national songs,
and municipal programs to propagate the full gamut
of the new civic rights and duties as promoted and
framed by the nation-state.

That these efforts have been marred by ideological


obscurantism, inefficiency, neglect, ignorance, greed,
official flippancy, and recently a vengeful destructive
streak in no way means that they were insincere. It
only points to the fundamental failure at understand-

— 18 2 —
Nasser Rab b at

ing the context in which the notions of citizenship,


civic society, and the rights and responsibilities of
belonging had been imported, implanted, and mar-
keted as buttresses of national pride, when the defi-
nition of nationalism itself in post-Ottoman times
was unstable, wavering between the single-country
nationalism and pan-Arabism, frequently challenged,
and ultimately rejected by vigorously ideological con-

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
tenders with different agendas.

Like elsewhere in the post-colonial world, the interest


in civil rights and duties for all as a standing proof of
nationalism in modern Syria was both inspired by Eu-
ropean models and fueled by resistance to European
interference. But, like elsewhere as well, the project
of nation building in Syria after independence was
on the whole idiosyncratic, focusing on specific con-
cepts that fulfilled circumscribed and at times ideo-
logically driven aesthetic, historical, or national crite-
ria, and, in the years of the Assad regime, a strongly
pronounced cult of personality.

However, another, rarely invoked factor in the failure


in implementing a robust civil rights regimen is a
shifty cultural relativism and even cultural exclusiv-
ism that has marred the discourse on Arabic, and,
in the last thirty years, Islamic identity in the Arab
World, of course including Syria. The process start-
ed in a most benign form when the first Arab thinkers
came face-to-face with European cultures during the
relatively short moment of awakening optimistically
dubbed al-Nahda, the “Renaissance,” in the late 19th-
early 20th century. They searched for ways to adapt
Western concepts of nationalism, civics, freedom,
democracy, and the like, that they observed and ad-
mired to their own Arabic context. Many of these
concepts were obviously alien to the Arabic political

— 18 3 —
culture. When Arab nationalists who studied in Eu-
rope rendered them in Arabic, they used Arabic terms
that had different evolutionary histories and, conse-
quently, different semantic fields. As such, the trans-
lations had to function either as approximations, or
they had to be accompanied by a full assimilation
of the schools of thoughts, the institutions, and the
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

historical experiences that had produced their (Eu-


ropean) meanings. This is evident in the writing of
such pioneers of liberation and progress as Rifa‘a
Rafi‘ al-Tahtawi (1801-73), Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq
(1804-87), Khaireddine al-Tunsi (1822-1890), and
Qasim Amin (1863-1908). Nonetheless, an air of
hopefulness and reconciliation transpires from these
writings, as these thinkers looked forward to modern-
ization and liberalization as politically and socially
desirable trajectories.

But those hopes were dashed by the realities of politics


and colonial interventions and domination by the time
the next generation of Arab reformers came onto the
scene right before the Second World War. The easy,
and perhaps innocent, adaptation of Western con-
cepts that marked the outlook of early Arab intellectu-
als gave way to questioning, doubts, relativization and
ultimately rejection of Western concepts among a siz-
able number of late-twentieth century thinkers. This
attitude solidified with the rise of radical Islamism in
the last thirty years, which discarded Western values
as harbingers of foreign interference and moral deca-
dence and sought a return to more authentic Islamic
principles to properly govern the nation.

Modern political and moral values in particular,


which have been introduced into the Arabic lexicon,
and more hesitantly into the Arab political sphere, in
the early twentieth century, have been subjected to

— 18 4 —
Nasser Rab b at

a revisionist authentication that bordered sometimes


on reinventing. This stripped them not only of their his-
tories, but also, and more deplorably, of the full range
of their meaning. An early example of this process
is the sloganeering of nationalist Arab parties, espe-
cially the Ba‘ath party, which dominated the political
life in Syria for the last 60 years. The founders of the
Party tried to find Arabic and/or Islamic equivalents

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
and precedents to the values they were borrowing di-
rectly from European political philosophy. They, for
instance, used as their motto: wahda, huriyya, ishtiraki-
yya (Unity, Liberty, and Socialism) (notice the echo of
the French Revolution’s tripartite motto), but they fo-
cused their interpretation of the three principles on the
collective level. Their huriyya in fact is not the freedom
of the individual but the liberation of the Arab world
from colonial rule. Their unity was a straightforward
union of the Arab countries, and their socialism was
an ill-managed form of state socialism.

The modern-day Islamists, though definitely influ-


enced by Western thoughts, chose to look for con-
ceptual alternatives to modern political principles in
Islamic jurisprudence. Thus we saw the introduction,
or more accurately the re-introduction, of concepts
taken directly from medieval scholarly discussions,
not just from the Qur’an or the hadith. One such exam-
ple is the concept of shura, literally meaning “consul-
tation,” advanced in the mid-century by rationalist Is-
lamists as an alternative, and even a precedent, to the
Western notion of democracy. But of course the two
concepts are different. That most Arabic autocratic
regimes, both republican and royal, have shura coun-
cils is indication enough of the difference (appoint-
ment rather than election, limited legislative power to
shura councils, and deference to the authority of the
unelected ruler).

— 18 5 —
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— 18 6 —
— 18 7 —
Nasser Rab b at

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S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 18 8 —
— 18 9 —
Nasser Rab b at

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More recently, concepts such as hakimiyyah (divine
governance), imara (leadership), khilafa (supreme
rule) and the Shi‘ite concept of Wilayat al-Faqih (Su-
preme Jurist Leadership) have entered the political
domain in the Arab World in general and more di-
rectly Syria in the last few years. Though these con-
cepts are still debated among partisans of Islamist
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

movements, their reintroduction is a clear evidence


of cultural exclusivism. For, as opposed to the earlier
concept of shura, these concepts do not claim any
equivalent in modern political thoughts, nor do they
try to approximate any existing principle. They are
predicated first and foremost on a different vision of
the role of government, the sources of its legitimacy,
and the rights of the individuals, a vision that claims
to draw its own authority from divine rules. In other
words, there appears to be no place for the secular
concept of civil rights in this framework.

The linguistic, and by association historical and con-


ceptual, limitations of course would not have led
to the kind of wanton destruction that we have wit-
nessed in the last couple of years. For that we have
to turn again to the drastically deteriorating social,
economic, and demographic conditions in the late
twentieth century, which were mostly ignored by the
regime. For after the early flirting with socialism, al-
beit in a very paternalistic way, under the rule of the
Baath Party and the early years of Hafez al-Assad,
the 1990s and 2000s saw the dismantling of those
faltering socialist experiments and their gradual re-
placement with a statist form of crony capitalism.
Initiated under Assad père, but ruthlessly expanded
under Assad fils, the economic about-face came on
the heels of political changes when the military re-
gime, functioning under the nominal tutelage of the
Baath Party, hardened into a tyrannical dictatorship,

— 19 0 —
Nasser Rab b at

whose sole purpose was to hold on to power and to


enrich its narrow base of supporters. And despite the
semblance of growth that crony capitalism delivered,
the country experienced acute problems of urban
and rural degradation, infrastructural exhaustion, de-
mographic explosion, and socieconomic inequality.

By then desperate and opportunistic rural migra-

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
tion had flooded the cities, especially those coming
from the Euphrates basin, suffering from protract-
ed drought and governmental neglect. The cities
swelled uncontrollably and at an unprecedented
rate to house the bursting poor population. This was
most evident in the old urban cores of the historic cit-
ies, especially Damascus and Aleppo, as well as the
minimally planned and badly serviced developments
that grew up on the periphery, which the Egyptians
name with the very expressive name, ‘Ashwa’iyyat, or
haphazard settlements. The dismal living conditions
of the vast majority of these new urban dwellers were
at the root of the spread of angry Islamist ideologies
over the years that culminated in the disastrous re-
volt of 1982, brutally crushed by the Assad regime,
and the more disastrous militarization of the 2011
revolution, which has strongly contributed to Syria’s
ongoing destruction.

But when the Syrians joined the other Arab revolts in


2011, it was partly in response to the dismal condi-
tions that have affected their cities, rural areas, and
the slums that were exploding around the cities, which
could no longer sustain the unjust socioeconomic
equation that dictated their development for so long.
I will not go through the tragedies that have resulted
of the protracted protests and their evolution into
armed protests against an intransigent regime. Nor
will I analyze the further degeneration of the conflict

— 19 1 —
into an international proxy war in which every single
regional and international power has chosen its play-
ers on the ground and engaged in the civil sectarian
war that the revolution has devolved into. Suffice it to
say that the magnitude of destruction that we have
witnessed in the last six years is unprecedented and
it has forced new facts on the ground for anyone who
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

thinks about the future of Syria.

This is where we need to rethink a new conceptual


framework and a long-term plan of political and
social rehabilitation and material and urban re-
construction together in the aftermath of the war
in Syria. Of course there is some urgency in tack-
ling certain displacement issues that cannot wait
for a comprehensive and long-term plan to be im-
plemented. And of course certain heritage sites
require immediate rescue interventions to secure
certain threatened monuments or entire sectors or
to save whatever is left of them in places like Alep-
po, Palmyra, Ma‘arrat al-Nu‘man, and other historic
sites. The same could be said about the need for
creative, innovative, legally binding and technologi-
cally savvy approaches to dealing with the major
problems of rebuilding and replanning. Hence the
propagation, for instance, of new techniques of
preserving and organizing the meta-data gathered
by various entities on Syrian heritage sites and the
experiments in 3D reconstructions of destroyed
monuments, especially in Palmyra as the one site in
Syria that has galvanized the attention of the whole
world and led to the flurry of international and re-
gional meetings that we are witnessing these days.
And hence the efforts of many organizations to
tackle reconstruction problems on small scale and
in defined settings, such as what many of you have
been doing here.

— 19 2 —
Nasser Rab b at

But I would like to resist the temptation to jump on


the bandwagon of quick fixes, large or small recon-
struction projects, and heavy reliance on technologi-
cal innovations to respond to the very urgent issues to
focus on the necessary ethical, and per force political,
framework for any project of reconstruction, restora-
tion, and rehabilitation in a country that has been bat-
tered, robbed of its sense of politics, and subjugated

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
to hegemonial ideologies for many years. I would still
like to take my queue in proposing an approach to the
broad problem of reconstruction from the purpose
and impulse of the initial protests of the Arab Spring:
a freer political system in which every voice has the
right to be heard and the right to be adopted and every
religious, ethnic, and linguistic community and social
class has a place in the tapestry of nationalism.

I am also interested in the economic, urban, and politi-


cal roots of the protests, which have pitted the mass-
es of badly educated, rural or semi-urbanized, unem-
ployed, frustrated, oppressed and neglected classes
against a plutocratic and kleptomaniacal dictatorship
masquerading as a progressive, resisting or refusing
(muqawama and mumana‘a as the two terms have
developed in recent Syrian political discourse) regime
committed to the wellbeing of these same masses.
The protesters initially aimed at nothing less than to
redress that perversion that had for more than half a
century impressed upon them an obligation to sacri-
fice their civil rights for their repeatedly hijacked na-
tional integrity and economic prosperity. This unjust
equation should never be allowed again; nor should its
neo-capitalist alternative, which supplements political
power with financial might, be allowed to burgeon now
or later. New, more equitable policies would have to
be implemented to stop or slow down the destruction,
urban degradation, and extreme economic disparity.

— 19 3 —
It must have become obvious by now that for the
post-war reconstruction, I am ultimately advocating
the formulation of a right to decent living that builds
upon the thinking that has evolved in the last dec-
ade on the right to the city: an inclusive and egalitar-
ian discourse that engages beside the professional
and technical aspects of its subject matter a set of
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

encompassing political, social, and financial issues


along with their stakeholders as fully empowered
decision makers. A national discourse is needed for
questions that range from decisions about govern-
ance, legal framework, and fair representation; to the
use of education to teach the citizens about their
rights and duties and to highlight the ties that bind
them to their towns or cities, and their country at
large; and finally to the primacy of public funding over
private investment in accommodating social needs
and in providing for the welfare of the cities and his-
toric sites and the upkeep of their infrastructure and
services, as well as their historic monuments.

Accordingly, a new conceptualizing of reconstruction


through the prism of civil rights is needed to reassert
the social, economic, and environmental wellbeing
of the various communities as integral to the actual
acts of preservation or rehabilitation or even recon-
struction. This proposed ethical framing should aim
to rescue the actual built environment from neglect,
capitalist commodification, bureaucratic calcifica-
tion, and, most importantly, the kind of destructive
extremist bigotry that benefitted from the civil war to
emerge and spread.

— 19 4 —
— 19 5 —
Nasser Rab b at

E T H I C S O F I N T E R V E N T I O N : F R A M I N G T H E D E B AT E O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N I N S Y R I A
SYRIA - THE
MAKING OF THE
FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO
THE ARCHITECTURE
OF THE CITY

ATLAS
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 19 8 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

Tales f rom Sy ria . C a s e Stu dies



Reem Alharfoush, M. Wesam Al Asali, Maria-Thala Al-Aswad,
Fares Al-Saleh

Introduction

As tutors in the 2017 W.A.Ve. 2017, the incubator — Reem Alharfoush is


an architect at Foster +
initiative of this book, our main task was to define a Partners in London. She
series of case-studies that represents and covers the received her Bachelor
degree in architecture
whole country as references to open the debate on with first class honours at
the reconstruction of Syria. Damascus University in
2008 and was granted a
scholarship to complete
We have tried to define the general key-cases by their her academic post-

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
graduate studies in the
urban morphology specificities and their scales. The UK by the Ministry of High
added factor is the damage assessment of the urban Education in Syria. She
fabric: as a direct result of the war, like the complete completed her master
degree in Advanced Archi-
or partial destruction of towns and villages in north- tectural Design at Oxford
ern and north-eastern Syria (Aleppo, Al-Raqqa, Ariha, Brooks University and was
awarded MArch degree
etc.); or as an indirect result of the war, like the physi- with distinction in 2012.
cal degradation of neighbourhoods due to lack of She worked as a tutor in
the architectural design
maintenance (Al-Malek Faysal and Sarouja districts studio in both Damascus
in Damascus). After all, we think of reconstruction University and The
International University of
as a global vision at territorial levels: it is not to be Science and Technology
reviewed on a case-by-case basis. in Syria. During her aca-
demic and professional
experience, she won
We assume that the various chosen cases cannot several awards including
reflect or include the different issues of all Syrian a certificate of distinctive
achievements by the
neighbourhoods. Summarising this complex mix of Ministry of Economy in
geographical, social, and spatial diversity in the cha- Syria and second place at
Genius-Europe graduate
os of the Syrian conflict is almost an impossible task. competition organised by
There are inevitable facts that we need to underline IFIA in Budapest, in 2009.
regarding social injustice, land mismanagement, and
— M. Wesam Al Asali is
the masking of truth. Therefore, in this article, we an architect and a build-
will introduce main urban issues through the reality ing apprentice. He is a
of four different Syrian cities and neighbourhoods. PhD candidate in the Cen-
tre for Natural Material In-
They share the same arguments but their contexts novation at the University

— 19 9 —
of Cambridge where he and results are quite different from each other.
studies craft and tradition
in building practice of Through these four case studies, we will try to shed
thin-tile vaulting and its some light on the concepts of reconstruction that,
potential in reconstruc-
tion. He graduated in we think, extend beyond the economic and urban
2007 from Damascus rush to rebuild. The urban dimension of the crisis is
University and studied
MPhil in architecture
rooted in Syrian society well before 2011. Planning
and construction mechanisms have always been
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

and urban studies at the


University of Cambridge. authoritarian and unjust. These mechanisms pro-
Wesam has practice expe-
rience in Syria, Denmark, duced urban and social cases that are very relevant
and in the UK. In 2010, to reconstruction studies and from which we could
He co-founded IWLab in
Damascus. In Denmark, spot four main topics in this article: a) marginali-
he worked in HLA and zation in city planning; b) the erosion of the cen-
Vismo. He was a guest tu-
tor in our WAVe workshop
tralities adjoining big cities; c) the identity of rapidly
in 2015. He took part in changing towns with refugees and newcomers, and
the coordination of the
d) the production of service-less villages which is
Urbicide I conference in
2016, and in the Venice visible in shelter shortage during the war.
Charter on Reconstruc-
tion. He is a guest teacher
in Project Strategies & Many of the selected cases of the workshop and the
Innovation in Humanitar- books bring forth these four “topics”. Damascus and
ian Emergencies in the
Iuav Postgraduate Spe-
Aleppo, for example, suffered from a lack of vision in
cialisation Programme planning to amend or update the French urban poli-
EAHR - "Humanitarian
Emergencies".
cies of the 1940s. Planning, in general, lacked any
sensitivity toward the social changes. It expanded
— Born in Damascus in the boundaries of cities, entirely eroding any rural
1984, Maria-Thala Al-
Aswad is a Franco-Syrian identity of the newly added areas. During the conflict,
architect. Through her villages were placed under the spotlight for receiving
unique personal path
of different successive
large numbers of displaced persons. New forms of
uproots (Syria, Saudi- shelters and ownership patterns are also important
Arabia, Syria, France,
Lebanon), she developed
pertinent topics. The four cases we will present can
a transgressive culture of therefore be projected on all the twenty cases that
permanent de-terri- students and architects developed in the workshop.
torialisation towards
absent countries, in the We hope that, with these, we can cover some of the
unacceptance of the questions about the specificity of study cases in Syr-
ideologies of dominant
thoughts. In 2002, she ia and the role of those features in the reconstruction
joined the architecture process. It seems that rebuilding a demolished area
school of the University
of Aleppo; in 2007, she
is not enough: perhaps we also need to think about
obtained her Architecture what appears to still be “healthy”.

— 200 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

Aleppo / Objective immersion and retreat diploma from the Univer-


sity of Damascus. In Paris
in 2008, she worked in the
The choice of the city of Aleppo (the economic capi- framework of the master's
degree at Ecole Nationale
tal of Syria) was an obvious one, as the city repre- Supérieure d'Architecture
sents the categories of “large city facing destruc- de Paris Malaquais before
obtaining a diploma
tion” and “severely damaged world heritage”. From in 2010. In 2013, she
the first days of reflection, this topic appeared to be co-founded the firm Akl
extremely complex and rich. Les Architectes Workshop
with Hicham Bou.

Through the eyes of the different foreign speakers, — Born in 1984 in Aleppo,
Syria, Fares Al-Saleh was
through the monographic and cartographic docu- educated at the Univer-
ments, and through abstract statistical information, sity of Aleppo where he
obtained his Architecture
I was able to acquire some distance from a city in Bachelor from the Faculty
which I have lived and which I know very well. I devel- of Architecture in 2009.

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
oped an inverse mechanism that took me from the In 2011, Fares accepted
a teaching position at
subjective details of everyday life to a detached point Ittihad Private University
of view through the filter of documents. I will try to (IPU) in Syria as a tutor,
until co-founding MODE
ask some questions that emerged from the various ARCHITECTS in 2012 in
proposals and debates that were exchanged during Aleppo. By 2013 Fares
moved to Turkey and
the 3 weeks of the workshop. Questions that affect- entered the humanitarian
ed us and that were left unanswered, maybe because field with Jesuit Refugee
they actually are serious and noteworthy. Services (JRS) as Objec-
tive Coordinator of multi
sectorial humanitarian
The reconstruction of Aleppo is perhaps an oppor- assistance programmes
for internally displaced
tunity for further reflection on the construction of a people in northwest Syria.
new Aleppo, a city that could respond to the major Since 2014 Fares has
became more involved
upheavals it has undergone. Before asking the ques- in shelter emergency
tion “what city do we reconstruct?”, we must start response and housing
support in Syria. Currently,
by observing the current city beyond the nostalgic he is the Emergency and
local imaginary or universal economic projections. Rehabilitation Infrastruc-
The idea of an Aleppo that reflects 3 major visions ture Head of Department
at Caritas Luxembourg,
imposed itself: the historical city and different urban co-founding the Syrian
plans, the spontaneous and informal city that devel- Association for Relief
and Development (SARD),
oped in parallel, but also (and mainly) the Aleppo of based in Turkey, to over-
war. Or, more precisely, Aleppo “at war”: half-demol- see the day-to-day man-
agement of infrastructure
ished, with a redistributed population, and with the projects inside Syria.
emergence of new polarities.

— 201 —
1 — André Gutton
(1904–2002) was a
The history of the city and its urban plan
French architect and
urban planner employed Economic development and population growth are the
by the French govern-
ment in Aleppo. main causes of the major transformation of the city of
Aleppo and its “oil-stain” expansion on a relatively flat
2 — Gyoji Banshoya
(1930–1998) was a
and favourable territory. Following a series of master
Japanese urban planner plans under the French mandate, the plan established
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

whose lifework was de-


voted to urban planning
by Gutton1 in 1954 was adopted for the city’s growth. It
in the Middle East and envisaged a “modern” (westernised) expansion of the
North Africa. city toward the west, and keeping the east and north-
west mainly for industrial zones (like the districts of Ain
al-Tell, Arkoub, Kallassé, and Belleraoum). In 1974, the
Banshoya2 Plan proposed large expansions toward the
southwest. The expansion of the popular districts took
place toward the east, north, and south of the city, more
or less respecting the municipal plan of alignment and
residency that was defined for each area. The consid-
erable expansion of the city of Aleppo between 1974
and 2000 was a response to population growth, and the
explosion of the real estate market became the only
investment vehicle for owners of capital.

Urban planning and the informal city

Urban planning in most major Syrian cities has proved


inefficient in the face of informal growth and of the
concentration of education and job-related migration
flows towards these regional economic poles. The
public policies adopted in the face of this informal
city growth varied from one period to another: severe
repression, laxity or laissez-faire. The laissez-faire ap-
proach helped to indirectly and partially resolve the
housing crisis and to ease the economic burden of
financing a formal solution. Between 1970 and 1974,
an unplanned urban development was severely re-
pressed with prosecution and mass demolitions. The
period was followed by laissez-faire until 2008, when

— 202 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

once again legal prosecution and massive demoli-


tions were applied according to Presidential Decree
No.59, which prohibited all illegal construction on the
municipal territory in view of the implementation of
the 2004 master plan, which was supposed to guide
the development of the city until 2015.

Aleppo grew by 3.3% a year, the equivalent of 50,000


inhabitants, mostly concentrated in the unplanned
sectors. This makes it possible to estimate the gap
between the real needs of the population and the ca-
pacity of the “urban plan” to meet these needs. It also
questions the credibility of using or recycling an exist-
ing urban development plan to project it on the future

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
of a demolished city. The impotence of urban planning
is part of the various social and urban segregation fac-
tors that are at the heart of the current crisis in Syria.
Informality is the spontaneous city that, apart from
its quality, is a direct response to immediate needs.
Therefore, urban reality perhaps is the most significant
part of the city to understand, and not only the official
intentions and the past image of the city (represented
by a heritage that constantly needs to be reinvented).
Its structure, its position in relation to the city, its road
network, and its inhabitants are factors that need to be
analysed and understood in the long term.

Aleppo: a city at war


Case study by Maria-Thala Al-Aswad

Omitting the war from the history of Aleppo would ne-


glect major information that is necessary for the devel-
opment of a cautious policy of reconstruction. An over-
lay of demographic, military, and geological (energy)
data is always necessary to read the reality of the city. I
wonder whether a morphological study of the (de-)for-
mation of the city, or cities, should be envisaged.

— 203 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 204 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S

— 205 —
By putting together urban, sociological, and political
data of areas of major destruction, such as East Alep-
po (the poor and popular part of the city), we come
across significant questions regarding the city. We
also come across the links that connect the war fronts
and the various urban fabrics. Beyond a communal
division of the city, the urban plans reveal social and
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

economic qualities. In times of war, as well as in times


of peace, Aleppo is divided into patterns that intersect
and sometimes resemble each other. Without wanting
to give hasty answers, what interests us is to propose
a hypothesis that reads the city as it presents itself,
before beginning to plan the future. But the transfor-
mation of the urban fabric in times of war is not lim-
ited to destruction. The city undergoes real changes in
its use. New dynamics are established during a war:
borders, safe areas, buffer zones, ravaged neighbour-
hoods, less affected or unaffected ones, etc. A new
morphology develops, and a new use of the city takes
shape. The city is travelled across in a different way, and
new transit polarities take place. These seemingly tem-
porary transformations can leave traces and last long
enough to affect the functioning of the post-war city. In
Beirut, for example, 17 years after the unification of the
country, the east and west parts of the city retained a
certain identity, both socially and in terms of transport.
The war-period border between the two areas remained,
due to the specially tailored road network that are now
accompanied by a deserted city centre. The centre,
frontier border between east and west during the war,
remained a border even afterwards, but this time due to
an economic and political crisis.

Definition of communities in Aleppo

Large-scale financing by the leading countries in


the field of construction risks making Aleppo into a

— 206 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

clone city of Dubai, and turning the historical centre


of Aleppo into a ghost and frozen town (like the cen-
tre of Beirut rebuilt by Solidaire).

In view of this model of universal economic recon-


struction, the idea of local funding by municipalities
and communities, and through popular assemblies,
presents an alternative model. However, as soon as we
investigate this hypothesis, the definition of commu-
nity in Syria is less obvious than it seems. What com-
munities are we talking about, and how do we define
them? Geographical, confessional, political-religious
entities? Local communities are not independent from
the international stakes and the external market, es-

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
pecially since the current war in Syria shows complex
affiliations between communities and foreign policy.

How do we include the massive population displace-


ments in the new map of the territory? How do we
manage the demographic transformations and the
persisting land tenures? The large displacement of
populations in recent years has caused a significant
demographic shift in the region: internal refugees
moving from villages to towns and cities abandoned
by their inhabitants who emigrated to Europe or Amer-
ica. New generations no longer belonging to the origi-
nal communities, as defined before the war, were born.
However, religion seems to remain a community iden-
tity that persists and strengthens over time.

The two urban models — the franchise economic mod-


el and the local community mode — are likely to be
insufficient to respond to territorial issues throughout
Syria. Adopting a fragmented approach and viewing
the city on several disconnected scales, may lead to
a sectorisation of the city. The new morphology of the
territory cannot be conceived independently from the

— 207 —
boundaries that will emerge at the end of the conflict
and from the relationship with neighbouring countries.
A national vision of the country is essential to perform
the reconstruction on a territorial scale.

The real is the place of formation of theory


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

It is now time to raise the basic questions to develop


some basic ideas related to Syria and to propose a new
(specific and concrete) approach for its reconstruc-
tion, which goes beyond land, morphology, cartogra-
phy, and abstract economic rationalism. It is time to
return to the political and social reality of the country
before the war, but also to dare seeing war as part of
history, and destruction as a morphological fact that
bears meaning. The city carries within itself its own fu-
ture paradigms; memory and history are essential for
a proper understanding of the city and the definition of
its identity. The relationship with memory reappears
after wars and disasters, through a seemingly contra-
dictory double movement: the loss of the relationship
with tradition, and a desperate resurgence of heritage
as the only holder of identity. The present of the city,
as it is being created today, escapes us and remains
the dialectical place that is most revealing and most
difficult to grasp at the same time.

Jobar / Urban but rural


Case-Study by M. Wesam Al-Asali

What terrible pictures we are getting from Jobar! This


neighbourhood on the east of Damascus has been
a battle frontline since 2012. The pictures of the de-
stroyed buildings, arid lands, and cracked streets leave
nothing but bitterness and questions. What is Jobar in
relation to Damascus? What did Jobar look like? Who
lives and would live in Jobar? During and before the cur-

— 208 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

rent conflict, Jobar represented the rest of the eastern 3 — Daghman, “Mud
building architecture
neighbourhoods that were planted under the pressure of in Damascus region,
spatial affiliation. Its case of “urban expansion in a rural analysis and documen-
tation study” (Amaret
neighbourhood” poses important and useful questions Al Abnyeh al Tinyeh fe
in understanding what happened and what would hap- Iqleem Dimashq-Diraset
Tauthiqiyye Tahliliyye).
pen for post-war reconstruction.

Damascus cannot be described as socially or culturally


homogenous, but it can be said that it follows distinctly
“recognisable conformities”. The visitor’s eye can iden-
tify each city’s neighbourhoods, streets, and buildings. It
is sufficient to mention one of these names — Shaalan,
Al-Qasa’a, Rukn al-Din or Al-Misat — to bring a solid im-
age of building patterns to the memory. These patterns

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
collide in the “Jobar Mazzeh Autostrad” minibus that
crosses the city from west to east. Once the minibus
enters Jobar, recognisable conformities turn into estab-
lished hesitation: it is neither countryside nor city!

Historically, Jobar has always had an undeniable rural


identity that it maintained even when it was added to
the administrative boundaries of Damascus in 1986. It
had a clearly defined centre, an extended market with
a grand mosque with pitched roofing (similar to the
one of Omayyad), a small (demolished and replaced
with concrete mosque before the conflict) mosque,
an ancient synagogue, Turkish bath, and a cemetery in
the northwest part of the neighbourhood. Interestingly,
only the synagogue is registered in the Syrian depart-
ment of antiquities. Following the architecture in east-
ern Ghouta, Jobar houses were mud houses with some
stone arches for openings. The living areas were usually
accompanied by barns, cooking and baking kilns, and
storage for agricultural goods. This house typology is
similar to the old Damascus dwellings but it has differ-
ent materials, which are less expensive, and a horizon-
tal extension instead of a vertical one3.

— 209 —
4 — For more on Before erecting the famous Baghdad Street at the
Damascene craft, see:
al-Qasimi, al-Qasimi, end of the Ottoman rule, the village of Jobar was
and al-Azm, “Dictionary connected to Damascus with a road that penetrat-
of Damascene Crafts”
(Qamus Al-Sina’at Al- ed farmlands towards Bab Touma and Amara. The
Shamiyya). aerial images clearly show that Jobar is not an ex-
tension of Damascus, and its origin has not been
established as such. Instead, it is an adjacent but
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

independent village near an articulated city. The


1935 Danger-Ecochard Plan understood that: plans
and analyses included Salhyeh and Madian from ex-
tramuros areas, and excluded Kafarsousa, Mazzeh,
and Jobar. Furthermore, When Jobar had to expand,
it extended toward Ghouta and not toward the city.
The shared trades and the means of rural production
and professions (such as heavy carpentry, and con-
struction crafts of rammed earth and adobe building)
can explain this4. However, the deep social affiliation
of Jobar to the rural belt around Damascus is social
and cultural, which includes common religious and
sectarian values, heritage, and traditions.

In 1968, Jobar was noticed by Michel Ecochard as


the expansion area of Damascus: a large area of 2
km2 that are adjacent to almost the entire eastern
side of Damascus. But those 2 km2 are not only ag-
ricultural land, nor only housing area: they present
diverse land typographies, such as the Bustans ar-
eas in the east, the valley area in the south (where
the Barada River arrives from Damascus), and the
central area where the village used to exist. One
of the results of the annex process was the mono
zoning of Jobar, which promulgated a number of
urban plans. Unfortunately, the configuration of the
historical centre of Jobar did not interest any urban
mappers, so the distribution of the blocks treated
the whole zone without sensitivity to any must-be-
preserved functions or buildings. Even Ghouta, the

— 2 10 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

most important feature in Jobar, was dealt with as 5 — Even in recent


reconstruction plans,
an empty land or, in the best scenario, as a forest. blocks of traditional
It was stripped from its essence as production sub- houses in Jobar are
defined as informal
stance for farmers who needed houses, silo storag- settlements.
es, stores, and workshops. Considering farmers and
their land as merely urban expansion led to change
those who used to take care of the Ghouta to those
who work in, and depend on, the City. When Damas-
cus woke up to this dilemma, it issued Resolution
No.60 of 1979 with the intention of rehabilitating
urbanisation and the construction market, which in
turn halted all planned construction. Resolution No.
60 would have been a good step if it had actually
been based on a desire to reconsider the primary

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
role of the Damascus countryside and recognise its
identity as an independent entity. But that decision
was selfish, a desperate attempt to win the orchard
circle around the city and push the sprawling hous-
ing beyond it. When urbanising and construction
froze around Damascus, a cement belt was built
around the green belt. Popular architecture had
become the way to build. During this period, Jobar
was characterised by a hybrid urban style. Housing
blocks that survived Resolution No.60 neighboured
mud houses. Streets were interspersed between the
old traditional allies (Harah) and overlapped with
the urbanists geometrical line. This all resulted in
severe urban problems, among which the non-ac-
knowledgement of the ancient fabric of the village
of Jobar as an important identity to its inhabitants.
Old traditional houses, though still inhabited, were
regarded as temporary structures until Jobar would
be able to build like (and imitate) Damascus5. From
1979 to 2000, the Parliament in Syria did not issue
any urban legislation. For twenty years, Jobar was
confused and caught in between what it wanted to
be and what it was.

— 2 11 —
At the beginning of the 21st Century, an attempt to
modernise Damascus resulted in a number of urban
legislation to modify No.60 and allow the sorting
and organisation of areas of the Damascus expan-
sion. Between 2000 and 2010, the remaining fabric
of the old neighbourhoods of Jobar was demolished
and replaced by typical four-storey buildings. In the-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

ory, those buildings would have accommodated the


housing requirements by increasing the occupancy
rate. In practice, al-Ghouta was voided from its la-
bour. This structural change in urbanisation changed
many occupations either directly by shutting down
workshops or indirectly by substituting the craft mar-
ket for the real estate trade. It also enforced a modi-
fication of the nature of housing and neighbouring:
many of the old houses were abandoned or demol-
ished because they became exposed to those who
lived in building blocks, which generated a sense of
loss of privacy. Urban spaces suffered from a lack
of services resulting from the policy of waiting until
the completion of the infrastructure. Mixed feelings
accompanied something that was changing rapidly.
This was tooped off with the construction of two
highways, one separating Jobar from Zamalka, and
the other separating it from Damascus, causing the
loss of many agricultural lands and the eradication
of their organic links. Then, the puzzling question
popped up: Is Jobar (Reef) or (Medina)?

The story of Jobar concludes a structural problem that


is summed up in the denial of the historical centres ad-
jacent to the villages of Damascus. Our village arrived
in 2011, with real estate prospects and grey lands;
with a great desire to be the modern extension to Al-
Qasa’a and Al-Qusor, but also with a homesickness for
homes near orchards. However, the most important
feeling was the one of neglect from the city that once

— 2 12 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

promised modernity. It is thus possible to understand


that the first demands by the people of Jobar, after the
demonstrations against the government, were a list of
real estate and service requests, such as the urgency
to issue a plan for a project, missing sidewalks or
more care for small public parks. The latest request
raises eyebrows and summarises the disaster: Jobar,
once Damascus’ endless park filled with orchards, in
2011 begged the province of Damascus to take care
of some small parks for lack of vegetation!

Jaramana / Unsettled city


Case study by Reem Alharfoush

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
Jaramana is not an area of conflict that catches the
eye of world media. However, there is something
unique and remarkable about it that is worth touch-
ing upon: the relationship to refugees and internally
displaced people. Today, it is an overwhelmingly
urban suburb of Damascus with a vast diversity of
inhabitants. Throughout history, many refugees and
migrants chose to live here, but how did the city deal
(and still deals) with these sudden flows of people?
What have been the consequences on the urban
fabric of the city? With its long history and scores
of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP),
Jaramana is the chosen study case to understand
how IDP and new migrants can be incorporated in
the future development of the city, both in econom-
ic and physical contexts. The “city” is located 8 km
southeast of Damascus, on the road to Damascus
International Airport, separating the capital and the
eastern Ghouta region as an extension of the coun-
tryside. It borders with several towns that are close
to the capital, including Mleiha, Beit Sahm, Dokhani-
ya, Ain Tarma, Wadi Ain Tarma, Jisreen, Jobar and
others. Nowadays, Jaramana is contested between

— 2 13 —
6 — A. Maria, A. government and opposition forces, internally divided
Kastrinou, “Power, sect
and state in Syria: The by class and politics, “natives” and “refugees”. It is
politics of marriage and known for its cultural, social, and urban heterogene-
identity amongst the
Druze”, 2016. ity, yet it has the highest population density in the
suburb of Damascus today, with 1,100,000 inhabit-
ants, including 80,000 IDP and 7,000 Iraqi.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Jaramana, a village of Aramaic roots, used to be a


quiet suburb with green fields and animals grazing
on the outskirts, with farmers living in the traditional
courtyard houses built in their farmlands. The exodus
of rural Druze from Jabal al Arab to Damascus and its
outskirts occurred in response to severe regional eco-
nomic inequalities in the suburb, as well as for their
deep involvement in political activities during the 1927
Syrian Revolution and after independence. In 1940, the
population of Jaramana was 1,8006. In the late 1960s,
however, governmental plans began to restrict the
concentration of the community in Jaramana by con-
structing a large refugee camp for 25,000 Palestin-
ians nearby. The camp was established in 1948 on an
area of 0.03 km2. In 1967, Palestinians who had tak-
en refuge in the Golan Heights, and were displaced
as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, moved into
the camp. In addition, many Christians who Damas-
cus to settle in the outskirts because of lower rents
and cheaper real estate. By 1982, the Population of
Jaramana exceeded 65,000. Despite the waves of
newcomers, and until the early 2000s, Jaramana was
sparsely populated, retaining its rural small farming
character, but with a mixed population. The material
and functional aspects of the houses shifted from
courtyard housing to apartment buildings of mostly
Christian and Druze residents. The city grew along a
road that was parallel to the central highway to Da-
mascus airport and south Syria. Commercial shops
and places were organised along a broad main road,

— 2 14 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

between two roundabouts acting as landmarks. The 7 — Previous councillor


of the Jaramana council,
changes in economic relations of production — the personal communica-
shift from agriculture to industrial and the rise of tion, 2017.

population — transformed Jaramana from a village 8 — Personal communi-


to one of the capital’s bustling suburbs. A new high- cation, 2012.
way connecting Jaramana with Damascus was con-
structed after the demolition of almost 30% of the
Palestinian refugee shelters7.

By 2004, the city had continuous development in the


real estate sector, emerging entertainment spaces,
cultural hubs, and increasing artist, intellectual, and
student residents. This emerging improvement re-
lated to sociological and cultural diversity invest-

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
ments in the area, in the context of neo-liberal state
forms. However, new visual and spatial boundaries
of the different communities were emerging through
economic accumulation and social networks, ar-
ticulated in segregated neighbourhood clusters of
new generation Druze immigrants, Christian com-
munities from Damascus, and Iraqi refugees in the
urban fabric.

Jaber from Baghdad8

Jaber is a thirty-two-year-old man from Baghdad who


lives in a shared apartment in Jaramana with three
other friends, who knew each other from Baghdad.

“Jaramana is a good place to live because it is


easy to find cheap food and there are many places
of entertainment; we can do whatever we want in
Jaramana because it attracts less attention from
authorities and the community does not bother too
much about our activities […]. We have made plans
to leave Syria and travel to Europe illegally, but we
still have not succeeded to carry them out”.

— 2 15 —
9 — Sophia Hoffmann, In 1999, Jaramana had 70,000 inhabitants, but this
“Iraqi migrants in Syria:
The crisis before the number increased to over 114,000 in 2004 due to the
Storm”, 2016. arrival of Iraqi refugees. The suburb became the best
10 — BBC, “Syria con- destination, where rents were affordable and local
flict: Internally displaced people were friendly. Christian Iraqis preferred this
struggle to survive” Feb.
2016.
city for its heterogeneous non-conservative society.
Others from different parts of Damascus moved to
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

the Jaramana “Iraqi neighbourhood”, which indeed it


had become one. Such identity was visible: new Iraqi
restaurants and shops had sprung up, together with
the sale of especially Iraqi goods and a large number
of travel companies arranging trips to Iraq9. The influx
of people had contributed to an ongoing building boom
that destroyed most of Jaramana’s remaining fields. In
2010, around half of the apartment blocks were built
anew, most of which had no cladding, and buildings
were left bare and unprotected. Lands were saturated
and vertical densification (additional illegal floors on
top of existing structures) was the only way to match
the growing population. With such heterogeneous pat-
terns on the surface of the buildings, the result was a
patchwork of different material typologies, colours, and
structures: the history of a building and its growth could
be read on its own façade.

Um Mohammed10

A chilly breeze found its way through the cracks in the


walls, and a dim light came in through the windows. Her
sons were out working to pay for their schoolbooks, and
her daughters sat nearby, browsing through theirs. Um
Mohammed with her family of seven are living in a flat
without any running water, sewage, or even a sink. The
walls are full of holes, and even when they manage to
find logs to burn for heating, the wind still seeps in. Just
before the conflict started in Syria in 2011, about 30%
of the buildings in Jaramana were vacant. Some of

— 2 16 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

these buildings have been abandoned by the Iraqi 11 — ETH Studio Basel,
“Contemporary City In-
refugees who returned to their country or by Syrian stitute, 2009, Jaramana
inhabitant due to the inflation of rental costs. On the Refugee City.

other side, the construction of new housing during


the construction boom was overly speculative, and
therefore many of these new residential buildings
never were sold. Since the beginning of the conflict
in Syria, most of those vacant, newly built, some un-
finished, concrete shells were inhabited due to demo-
graphic pressure. Jaramana has witnessed a massive
wave of displacement from neighbouring towns and
provinces because it is still under the control of the
Syrian regime and still yet has to experience direct
conflict. However, it was not spared the bombings,

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
rocket-propelled grenades, and security problems;
however, it was considered heaven in comparison to
other inflamed areas11.

Being on the periphery of the capital Damascus, it


is best suited for the displaced people because of
the low cost of living while still remaining close to
the city centre. The arrival of high numbers of inter-
nally displaced people from all over the country has
strongly contributed to the constant disruption and
rapid change of the urban fabric of the city. The rapid
and unplanned urban development of the Jaramana
region has continued to be influenced by the differ-
ent inhabitants and stakeholders. Diversity is some-
what an inevitable feature: each deed in businesses,
construction work or education involves various par-
ticipants from different ethnicities. Jaramana is left
alone. Part of previous rural infrastructure — such as
an old water tower, small gardens, and the occasional
farm shed — were simply left standing while urban
growth overtook them, and are now obsolete and lack-
ing any apparent ownership or stewardship. Services
and planning were minimal and are noticeable through

— 2 17 —
12 — Raymond Hinne- the absence of paved roads between newly built apart-
busch, Tina Zintl, “Syria
from reform to revolt”, ment blocks and the sudden appearance of openly
2015. neglected sandy squares. Jaramana always seems
changing and unfinished12.

Changing future
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

The future of Jaramana is uncertain. The dynamic of


the city is constantly evolving. The urban morpholo-
gies of the different areas are distinctly different from
one another. There are abandoned new development
areas, with a high potential of becoming the new hous-
ing buildings and thus guaranteeing the future of Ja-
ramana’s families. New open spaces also have this
potential to give way to new housing and infrastruc-
ture. Jaramana has a multi-layered identity that is
deeply rooted in spontaneous historical and political
changes. It is not obvious to understand an identity
that struggles between temporality and permanence.
Jaramana houses a large group of people that live in
temporary circumstances. It seems that a proposal
that aims to give a permanent aspect of and ever-
temporality in Jaramana can celebrate its new mod-
ern identity. Effective and strategically placed recov-
ery that reflects local needs and considers the future
unpredicted evolution of Jaramana can make it the
post-war modern centre of the capital.

Afs / Rural shelter


Case study by Fares Al-Saleh

In 2017, the Syrian conflict enters in its seventh year.


According to the United Nations High Commission-
er for Refugees, the number of internally displaced
persons, as of January 2017, was at 5.7 million with
56% of them remaining within their governorates.
Although those who moved within their governorate

— 2 18 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

may be more likely to return to their original com- 13 — The mission of


Camp Coordination and
munities, the return migration so far has been small Camp Management
compared with the total numbers of displaced: af- (CCCM).

fected people have exhausted their resources and


remain with little or no opportunity to re-build their
livelihoods. Unemployment has skyrocketed while
towns have been abandoned due to the limited avail-
ability and high cost of commodities, soaring fuel
prices, and damage to infrastructure, insecurity, and
the closure of markets. It is estimated that one in
three inhabitants of urban areas is an IDP.

By January 2017, according to the UN-CCCM13 sec-


tor lead, over 800,000 persons have been displaced

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
by the conflict in the northwest provinces, and many
are living in more than 200 informal settlements and
in urban settings such as schools, public buildings,
garages, shops, and basements. The huge influxes
of internally displaced people (IDPs) were mainly
towards urban and semi-urban countryside commu-
nities. The northwest of Syria and border areas with
Turkey have been facing a constant influx of displaced
populations from different conflict areas within Syria
(mainly from Aleppo, Idleb, Hama, and Homs). Most
displaced people are originally from neighbouring
communities or provinces and left their homes due to
combat warfare. Host communities (hosting IDPs) are
also overstretched, especially small-scale communi-
ties (villages and towns), putting significant stress on
basic services as a result of increasing demands. The
longer the conflict continues, the more difficult the
post-conflict recovery will be.

The story of Afs

Afs, Idlib is a Syrian village located in Saraqib Na-


hiyah in the Idlib District, Idlib. According to the

— 2 19 —
Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Afs, Idlib
had a population of 6,338 in the 2004 census. The
village has fertile soil and is located in a plains
area, 5 km away from the city of Saraqib. Its old
housing units are mud dwellings and the new ones
are made of cement. The village has an earthy hill
on the southwest part and is known as Afs hill, the
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

remains of which date back to 4,000 BC. Taftanaz


military airport is 7 km north of Afs village.

Pre-War Afs population depended on incomes from


rainfed and irrigated agriculture (barley, wheat, and
seasonal vegetables). The village is connected with
the nearby cities (Saraqib, Sarmin, Taftanaz) via a
good road network, as is connected with Damascus-
Aleppo M5 highway. The majority of its people are
from the poor class: they either work in agriculture
in their own lands or in governmental jobs. Afs suf-
fered from airstrikes and artillery shelling due to its
close distance from the Taftanaz military airport.
The airport experienced much warfare activity that
generally targeted the village’s houses and especially
the eastern neighbourhood, resulting in a displace-
ment of the people to nearby villages that lasted for
months. Walls, roof destruction, and entire building
destruction are the types of destruction that Afs
faced after the warfare, along with damage to pub-
lic facilities and infrastructure. During the war, most
people abandoned their jobs afraid of being arrested.
In addition, the irrigated agriculture dropped owing
to the high cost of irrigation methods. Most people
depended on their savings to meet their daily needs.
In early 2016, most people of Afs returned to their
houses and, because the village is considered to be
relatively safe, many people from the nearby villages
also moved into Afs for residence. Therefore, Afs be-
came a host community.

— 220 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

People are returning as soon as the conflict calms 14 — The World Bank,
“The toll of war”.
down to their affected village. Throughout Syria, <www.openknowl-
about 566.000 people have returned to their homes. edge.worldbank.
org/bitstream/han-
Most of these returnees have returned to Aleppo dle/10986/27541/
(332,000) and Hama (61,000)14. The%20Toll%20of%20
War.pdf>

In terms of availability of shelter materials and skills 15 — The Global


necessary to construct / repair shelters and homes, Shelter Cluster (GSC) an
Inter-Agency Standing
an assessment done by SNFI Cluster15 reveals that Committee (IASC).
almost everything is available in the majority of the
assessed area. However, around 75% of the popula-
tion cannot access these available shelter materials
and skills mainly due to financial constraints.

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
The majority of the Afs returnees have returned to their
homes, and the rest have settled in abandoned build-
ings and shelters near their homes. Abandoned houses
have been thoroughly looted. People of Afs face finan-
cial difficulties in repairing and rebuilding their dwell-
ings to a minimum standard by themselves and need
financial support. Rubble and heavily destroyed build-
ings need to be secured or removed: the threat of ex-
plosive residue of war (mines, grenades, UXO) remains
a safety concern for the population.Village infrastruc-
tures have been deeply affected and water and sewage
network systems have been disrupted. People cannot
afford the high transportation costs and high prices
of basic shelter materials. Poor security and long
distance to local markets further compound the prob-
lem. The population in need will be able to acquire the
needed shelter materials only once sustainable means
of economic activity is provided. Otherwise, they will
continue to rely on humanitarian assistance in order to
rebuild their homes and be able to get back on their
feet again. On account of the poverty of some families,
many were forced to live in their damaged houses. Oth-
ers were not capable to recover their houses at all and

— 221 —
were therefore hosted by their relatives (IDPs). Moreo-
ver, Afs community found itself to become a host com-
munity when a huge IDP settlement was established
within their village. Mud dwelling units were built
thanks to different humanitarian actors (Clay villages)
in the eastern neighbourhood to host displaced fami-
lies from different places. Many other different types of
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

accommodations used by the IDP families were identi-


fied across the semi-urban communities in northwest
Syria (not only Afs), but those shelters are also often
sub-standard shelters, destroyed or unfinished build-
ings or not fit for living, like:

Informal Settlements: are the aggregation of IDPs


into ad hoc settlements also called “spontaneous
settlements”, “self-established camps” or “camp-like
settlements”. They are a group of tented (or other
types of shelter) housing units established by the IDPs
themselves or by non-experienced actors, constructed
on land that the occupants have no legal claim on.

Collective Shelters or Collective Centres: a gathering


of more than 5 families (25 persons) constitutes a
collective centre. Collective centres include existing
buildings used as temporary living accommodation
for displaced populations. The types of buildings
used as collective shelters vary widely. They include
schools, hotels, community centres, hospitals, facto-
ries, religious buildings, police posts, and even mili-
tary barracks. They are mostly community buildings
but they can also be privately owned. These buildings
have mostly been constructed prior to displacement
and are not designed for accommodation. Additional
infrastructure and rehabilitation may be needed to
make them suitable as a collective shelter. Other
types of collective shelters are self-settled collective
centres established by the IDPs themselves. Like:

— 222 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

- Farmhouses: empty farms are concrete buildings of


multiple storeys that have been erected for poultry
production but have never been used. Empty concrete
platforms offering large spaces.
- Factory warehouses, community centres, funer-
al halls.
- Small Shelter Units: privately owned, empty houses
under interrupted construction. These houses can ac-
commodate a smaller amount of families, depending
on the size, and can therefore be seen as small collec-
tive shelters. Unfinished houses with four families or
less are usually not managed.

Unfinished houses or small shelter units: these are

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
private structures designed for accommodation un-
der interrupted construction. This includes different
stages of construction, from basic concrete platforms
without walls, up to almost finished buildings without
plastering or sanitation systems.

Surveys and assessments also showed that the ma-


jority of the displaced populations do not have con-
cerns in accessing shelter because of lack of legal
authorisation. While this finding may not imply a con-
cern, this cannot be conclusive for the whole popu-
lation regarding the general situation of housing,
land, and property (HLP) as the populations mostly
stay in settlements where legal authorisation does
not apply. The uncertain security context in Non-
Government control areas makes it extremely diffi-
cult to verify HLP ownership claims legally; a situa-
tion that is further complicated by the fact that many
Syrians did not possess formal HLP documentation
even before the beginning of the conflict. Much of
the existing documentation has since been lost, al-
tered or damaged. Likewise, many properties and
land owners may not be present in the community

— 223 —
due to displacement, imprisonment or loss of life.
Therefore, proof of registered HLP ownership may
not be available. Shelter provision, upgrades and or
rehabilitation can easily be co-opted to strengthen
ownership claims on the part of a community. It is
therefore essential to obtain information about the
conflict-induced changes to population composition.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Otherwise, the risk of unintentionally contributing to


conflict-induced demographic shift is very high.

Conclusion

The previous case studies from different regions of


Syria summarise some of the essential challenges
that must be considered in the reconstruction process.
The political aspect and result of the war have the most
important impact on the urbanity of the Syrian cities
and neighbourhoods. Expanding the scope of the ur-
ban planning parameters by including dimensions that
cannot be measured by ownership and investment is
a first step toward social justice and population rights
to decide their relation to their cities. The historical
centres of the neighbourhoods adjacent to the cities,
which have been ignored by the urban development
plans, have no less urban value than the historical
centres of the major cities. The nature of economic
production, housing, and the urban spaces of these
neighbourhoods cannot be overridden by the same
planning codes of those in the city centre.

Likewise, the emerging neighbourhoods in the cities


can be vital centres, characterised by being reception
areas for those with different life stories coming to
the city. These neighbourhoods are always changing
and manifest rich identities, forced by life circum-
stances to coexist, thus producing social and urban
relations worthy of attention. The Syrian countryside

— 224 —
R e e m A l h a r f o ush, M . Wesam Al Asali, Mar ia- Thala Al-A swad , Fares A l-S aleh

played a major role in welcoming the displaced by the


war. However, this role changed many concepts of
ownership, temporary housing, and resettlement. The
experience of the Syrian countryside, especially the
northern one, is rich and may contain specific solu-
tions to the challenges of expanding the first phase.

Working on the reconstruction of the country, by


masking the causes of the war and the war dam-
ages, is a reproduction of pre-war fundamental urban
problems. Today, many of the existing urban develop-
ment plans are still on the Syrian discussion table.
The least that can be said about these schemes is
that they lack any evolutionary learning logic from

TA L E S F R O M S Y R I A . C A S E S T U D I E S
the past and especially from the last seven years of
urban violence. The four cases we have presented
do not have linear solutions, but rather solutions
through exponentially alternating levels of observing,
learning, and imagining.

Design can be a part of this, as it is a creative mecha-


nism that freely jumps between different inputs to
generate solutions that classical analysis cannot
conceive. Hence, the products of this workshop are
important. On the one hand, the workshop deals with
the four issues separately. On the other, it deals with
them together as a whole. Design in creative educa-
tion and training platforms can be the cradle of re-
construction strategies. This should include different
perspectives and reflect the complex and contested
nature of cities. What we hope is that this experience
will become a model for similar experiences inside
and outside Syria as part of future projects. We also
hope that the theoretical framework outlined in the
four stories we have presented will work as a plat-
form for further research that attempts to envisage
the production of reconstruction solutions.

— 225 —
SYRI A

S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

KOBANE

ALEPPO
AL BAWABIYA RAQQA
TA’UM
NAHLAYA ARIHA
LATAKIA

HAMA
KAFR BUHUM
TARTUS

PALMYRA

BEIRUT
MA’LŪLĀ

DAMASCUS
DARAYYA AL MEZZEH
DOUMA
JARAMANA
QABOUN
SAROUJA

SHAHBA

AMMAN

* City names are translittered according to Google maps

— 226 —
ALEPPO MA’LŪLĀ
Armando Dal Fabbro Salma Samar Damluji
Fernanda De Maio
Patrizia Montini Zimolo
Paredes y Pedrosa NAHLAYA
UNLAB Solano Benitez
Gaeta Springall Architects
PALMYRA
Roberta Albiero
ARIHA Francesco Cacciatore
Plan Colletif
Camillo Magni
Attilio Santi
MOSUL AL BAWABIYA Sinan Hassan
Felipe Assadi

RAQQA
DAMASCUS Giancarlo Mazzanti
Douma
Antonella Gallo
SHAHBA
Jaramana João Ventura Trindade
Ciro Pirondi
Al Mezzeh TARTUS
VMXarchitetti
Qaboun TA’UM
TAMassociati
Sarouja
BOM Architecture

DARAYYA
Aldo Aymonino
BAGHDAD Beals Lyon Arquitectos

HAMA
Ammar Khammash

KAFR BUHUM

KOBANE
Ricardo Carvalho

LATAKIA

— 227 —
— ALEPPO / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

ALEPPO

to Damascus

0 5 km
industrial city

citadel

airport
Quwayq River

0 1 km
ALEPPO OLD CITY

citadel

Suk
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

GSPublisherVersion 0.0.100.100

— 232 —
ALEPPO

— The continuous armed


Syrian conflict that
reached Aleppo in 2012
caused severe damage
and destruction to
invaluable monuments
and inhabited neigh-
bourhoods. Therefore,
the historic city has
been added to the list
of endangered cultural
heritage. Since 2011,
the conflicts in Syria
have caused more than
400.000 dead and
millions of refugees.
The historic monu-
ments and the cultural
heritage continue to be
damaged, as a strategic
instrument to destroy
the cultural identity of
the Syrian population:
25% of historic buildings
are damaged, 40% are
partially destroyed, and
the Souq (historic Arab
market) has been burnt
down completely.

— 233 —
— ARIHA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

to Latakia

0 5 km
to Aleppo

ARIHA
Kafar Najd

0 1 km
ARIHA
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 238 —
ARIHA

— Ariha has faced


different types of
destruction, ranging
from light damage (wall
and roof) to completely
destroyed buildings.
Damage in public facili-
ties and infrastructure
has also occurred, and
many traditional shops
were almost completely
demolished in 2016.
During the war, most of
the people abandoned
their jobs, for security
reasons and because
of the destruction of
their factories and
shops. The town has
nearly 8.000 housing
units. Currently, 3.000
houses are affected with
repairable damage, but
800 houses have been
completely destroyed.

— 239 —
— AL BAWABIYA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

To’um

0 5 km
South Aleppo

Kafr Aleppo

AL BAWABIYA
AL BAWABIYA

ICARDA center

to Damascus

0 1 km
to Aleppo
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 244 —
AL BAWABIYA

— Al Bawabiya was
subject to much shelling
and airstrikes that
caused multiple IDPs,
and the village was
abandoned for 10 - 12
months. By February
2016, families began to
return to their homes,
as confirmed by the
village council after
the end of conflicts.
The 1.500 metre-long
main road is heavily
damaged and in need of
paving. The village high
school was completely
destroyed, therefore
the community rented
a warehouse in order to
provide students with
basic education.

— 245 —
— DAMASCUS

DAMASCUS

AL MEZZEH

DARAYYA

0 5 km
DOUMA

QABOUN

old city of Damascus

JARAMANA
— DOUMA / 33°34’20”N 36°24’ 06”E

QABOUN

to Damascus

0 1 km
DOUMA
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 250 —
DOUMA

— Douma was largely


destroyed by the battle
in 2012 and later by the
siege of 2015 when the
Syrian Army cut all the
food supplies for the
civil population and hit
the town with heavy
airstrikes. The United
Nations have denounced
the deliberate destruc-
tion of health care
infrastructure in Douma,
driving up deaths and
permanent disabilities.

— 251 —
— JARAMANA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Old City of Damascus

0 1 km
JARAMANA

to airport
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 254 —
JARAMANA

— In 2011, there were


more than 18,658
registered refugees. Ja-
ramana had six schools,
one food distribution
centre, one health
centre, and one com-
munity centre. In 2012,
Jaramana witnessed a
large wave of displace-
ment from neighbouring
towns and provinces
because of security
issues and because of
the increasing ferocity
of the battles. According
to the most current
data, in 2014, Jaramana
increased its inhabitants
up to 189,888, and
further increased it to
300,000 in 2017. The
total population of Rural
Damascus Governo-
rate is of 2.84 million,
representing 13% of the
total population of Syria,
with approximately 1.65
million people affected
by the crisis.

— 255 —
Mount Qudssaya

— AL MEZZEH / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

AL MEZZEH

to Beirut

0 1 km
Umayyin Square
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 258 —
AL MEZZEH

— According to HRW’s
satellite images, a
total of 41.6 hectares
of buildings was de-
molished around the Al
Mezzeh military airport,
mainly between Decem-
ber 2012 and July 2013.
In September 2012,
the Syrian president
issued a presidential
decree authorising the
construction of two
urban planning areas
within the governorate
of Damascus, as part
of a “general plan for
the city of Damascus
to develop the areas of
unauthorised residential
housing”. The first
area is situated in the
southeast of Al Mazzeh,
encompassing the
real estate depart-
ments of Al Mazzeh
and Kafarsouseh. The
second extends south,
encompassing the de-
partments of Al Mazzeh,
Kafarsouseh, Qanawat,
Basateen, Darayya and
Qadam.

— 259 —
— QUABOUN / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Barzeh

0 1 km
QABOUN
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 262 —
QABOUN

— The conditions of
Qaboun are generally
good and the number of
buildings destroyed is
very small. The city can
be described as a mixed
area: half is completely
planned and the other
half hosts unplanned
houses. More than
1.500 rebels and family
members left the devas-
tated district of Qaboun
on the edge of Damas-
cus, as the Syrian army
and its allies continue
to advance in the areas
and around the capital.
Inhabitants are slowly
returning to their homes,
but because of political
and military agreements,
this process is quite
difficult.

— 263 —
— SAROUJA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Umayyin Square

to Beirut

0 1 km
Abbassiyyin Square

SAROUJA

EL MALEK
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 266 —
SAROUJA

— Sarouja has suffered


great changes during
the conflict. Densifica-
tion caused by those
who fled to Sarouja,
security issues, com-
mercial use of houses,
and accessibility issues
have played an impor-
tant role on changing
the identity of Sarouja.
As extension of the
old city, but not inside
the walls, Sarouja was
subject to much harsh
urban and architectural
intervention before and
during the conflict. The
massive rural immigra-
tion towards the old
cities and their fringe
area is often seen as a
threat to the survival of
architectural heritage.

During the years of the


conflict, the city has at-
tracted a growing popu-
lation of farmers who
have abandoned their
lands to seek better life.
Today, only untreated
sewage water flows
down the Barada River
canals. Al Malek Faisal
is no longer a stable
place since the conflict
has caused many
changes in this area.
Densification is one of
the most considerable
problems, leading to
unconventional use and
interventions in areas
within the old city.

— 267 —
— DARAYYA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

DAMASCUS

DARAYYA

0 5 km
old city of Damascus
Al Moadamyeh

0 1 km
DARAYYA
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 272 —
DARAYYA

— By mid-2016, the
Syrian Army controlled
approximately 65% of
Darayya. The city was
completely destroyed.
Residents were relo-
cated from the suburb
where some of the
worst atrocities of the
Syrian war took place
after a brutal four-year
siege. Not only the
buildings but also the
infrastructure was heav-
ily damaged. In recent
years, residents have
slowly began returning
to their homes, but they
continue to have great
political issues.

— 273 —
— HAMA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

HAMA

to Homs

0 5 km
Mar Shahour

Al Orontes River
old castle site

0 1 km
HAMA
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 278 —
6
HAMA

— In Hama, general
destruction is minimal.
It mostly affected the
suburbs, with several
offenses occurring in
the north of the city.
Satellite imagery has
identified 5.968 affected
structures, of which
4.969 destroyed, 345
severely damaged,
and 654 moderately
damaged. This analysis
does not include pre-war
military bases and
facilities.

— 279 —
— KAFB BUHUM / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

KAFR

0 5 km
Aleppo
train station

KAFR

IDP camp

0 1 km
Quanater
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 284 —
KAFR BUHUM

— The village was hit by


much shelling and air-
strikes, some of which
took place around the
village causing different
levels of destruction. In
fact, the majority of the
main streets connecting
the village to Aleppo,
and the agricultural
roads within the village,
have been affected.
Water pumping remains
an issue that the com-
munity still faces, due to
the lack of fuel and the
high cost of recovery
and maintenance.
For this reason, some
residential neighbour-
hoods have no sewage
network.

— 285 —
— KOBANE / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

KOBANE

to Aleppo

0 5 km
Turkish Border
Turkish Border

to Aleppo

0 1 km
KOBANE
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

GSPublisherVersion 0.0.100.100

— 290 —
KOBANE

— By May 2015, the


“Kobane authorities”,
with the help of the mu-
nicipality of Diyarbakır,
and after 8 months of no
running water, managed
to restore the water
pump and supply for the
urban area, repair the
pipelines, and clean the
main water tank. During
the war, more than 70%
of the city was reduced
to rubble and at least
3,247 structures were
damaged. The recon-
struction and the return
of the inhabitants is well
on the way; in fact, by
May 2015, a little more
than half of the pre-war
residents returned to the
destroyed town, which is
now coming back to life.

— 291 —
— LATAKIA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Ugarit

LATAKIA

0 5 km
to Aleppo
Sheikh Daher

Ugarit Square

0 1 km
LATAKIA

Tishreen University
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 296 —
LATAKIA

— Latakia has no po-


tential conflictual prob-
lems. During the Syrian
Civil War, Latakia has
been a site of protest
activity for the informal
settlement since March
2011. Protests continue
despite the increase in
security measures and
arrests. Many people
are reaching Latakia and
therefore the population
is growing quickly. The
arriving people stay in
the schools and in the
public gardens, now
working as reception
centres.

— 297 —
— MA’LŪLĀ / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

MA’LŪLĀ

Alqalamoun Mount

to Damascus

0 5 km
Al Qutayfah
Jabadeen

0 1 km
Mar Takla

MA’LŪLĀ

Ayn At Tinah
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

GSPublisherVersion 0.0.100.100
X

— 302 —
MA’LŪLĀ

— The houses and alleys


of the old town were
completely destroyed.
The main shrine contain-
ing the tomb of St.
Thecla was completely
burnt down, with little or
no information on the
fate of its sacred con-
tents and relics. Parts of
the western and eastern
walls of the Monastery
of Saints Sergius and
Bacchus were subject
to severe damage since
several mortar shells
hit them. In addition,
the big dome of the
building was affected by
shelling.

— 303 —
— NAHLAYA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Idlib

NAHLAYA

Ariha

to Latakia

0 5 km
to Aleppo
Kurin

0 1 km
NAHLAYA
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 308 —
NAHLAYA

— The majority of its


population has been
displaced for 10 to 15
months and it is gradu-
ally returning. After May
2015, and the fall of
Ariha, only a few family
members returned to
Nahlaya. Out of 1.000
houses, over 50 % have
been partially damaged,
many severely damaged,
a few buildings have
been completely de-
stroyed, and 50 houses
completely burnt to the
ground. The majority of
the buildings, even the
severely damaged ones,
are used as shelters for
families. Schools were
damaged during the
conflict but are still used
for children to spend
time and have some
basic education.

— 309 —
— PALMYRA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

to Homs

0 5 km
PALMYRA TADMOR
to Homs

PALMYRA TADMOR

archeological site

0 1 km
Palmyra airport
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 3 14 —
PALMYRA

— After ISIS first seized


Palmyra in May 2015,
a selection of 42 areas
across the site were
examined in the satellite
imagery. Of these, 3
were totally destroyed,
7 severely damaged, 5
moderately damaged,
and at least 10 pos-
sibly damaged. Many
historical buildings have
been destroyed, like the
Palmyra museum, the
great temple of Ba’al,
and the Valley of the
Tombs (the large-scale
funerary monuments
outside the city walls).
Syrian government
forces regained Palmyra
on 27 March 2016 after
intense fights against
ISIL fighters.

— 3 15 —
— RAQQA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

RAQQA

0 5 km
Al Nasirah

Euphrate River
New Bridge

0 1 km
RAQQA OLD CITY

Euphrate River
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 320 —
RAQQA

— Since March 2013,


Raqqa has been at the
centre of the conflict in
Syria. It was first seized
by opposition groups,
and after fierce fights
in October 2013, ISIS
took control of the city.
In November 2014, the
Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights reported
that the Syrian Arab
Republic Government
bombed Raqqa, and that
damage was extensive
inside the old city area,
especially next to the
Raqqa Museum. There
have been reports of
damage to cultural herit-
age near the Abbasid
walls of Raqqa, such as
damage to lion statues
in the Al Rasheed Park,
and to the shrine tombs
of Uwais al-Qarani, Obay
ibn Qays, and Ammar
ibn Yasir. Migration from
Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, and
other inhabited places
to Raqqa occurred con-
sequently to the uprising
against Assad.

— 321 —
— SHAHBA / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

0 5 km
to Damascus

Shaqqa

SHAHBA

to As Suwayda
to As Suwayda

0 1 km
to Damascus

SHAHBA
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

GSPublisherVersion 0.0.100.100

— 326 —
SHAHBA

— Shahba was not physi-


cally affected by the
conflict, but it has been
subject to rapid changes
during the conflict. The
historical buildings have
been abandoned, and
the infrastructure of the
city has been neglected.
Many displaced people
from the surrounding
area have reached
Shahba. Densification
affected the historical
aspect and the structure
of the city.

— 327 —
to Latakia
— TARTUS / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Mediterranean Sea

TARTUS

Arwad Island

0 5 km
museum

0 1 km
TARTUS
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 332 —
TARTUS

— Tartus has no
potential conflictual
problems. Many
people are now reaching
Tartus, therefore the
population number is
growing quickly. The
people arriving are lo-
cated in public buildings
(schools and gardens)
that now work as recep-
tion centres. The Syrian
Observatory for Human
Rights reports that in
2016 Tartus was the set
of a series of attacks
that killed 121 people
and injured many others.

— 333 —
to Turkish Border

— TA’UM / 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

Idlib

0 5 km
TA’UM airbase

to Aleppo

Saraqib
Al-Fu’ah

Binnish

0 1 km
TA’UM
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 338 —
TA’UM

— Nowadays, 15
houses are completely
destroyed. Some houses
have been repaired
by their owners, but
inhabitants were mostly
displaced within the
village, and either live
with their relatives or
have left the village en-
tirely. Nearly 90 houses
present damages to
the foundations due to
close shelling. Damage
in public facilities and
in infrastructure has
also occurred, and many
traditional shops were
almost totally demol-
ished. Public facilities,
infrastructure, and
agricultural lands were
affected by shelling.

— 339 —
SYRIA - THE
MAKING OF THE
FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO
THE ARCHITECTURE
OF THE CITY

VENICE
CHARTER ON
RECONSTRUCTION
Venice char ter o n rec o n stru c tio n

“The war which is coming is not the first one. There


were other wars before it. When the last one came to
an end there were conquerors and conquered. Among
the conquered the common people starved. Among
the conquerors the common people starved too”.

Bertolt Brecht’s words are today more actual then


ever: the Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi conflicts, unfolding

V E N I C E C H A RT E R O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N
daily atrocities in front of our eyes, are not the first
ones nor the last. Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and oth-
er Syrian cities have been added to a long list: Guer-
nica, Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Beirut, Baghdad,
Mosul, Basrah.

Urbicide, the deliberate destruction of the cities and


of its living population, has been established as a
modern war strategy, a form of genocide, the fun-
damentally illegitimate targeting of civilian popu-
lation by armed forces. The increasing prevalence
of Urbicide in the contemporary world places new
demands on, and necessitates new approaches to,
post-war development.

The Venice Charter On Reconstruction aims at the


establishment of clear guidelines for post-war devel-
opment. Though generated in response to the Syrian
conflict, the charter aims to be useful in any other
similar possible scenarios. The nature of modern
conflicts challenges our understanding of conven-
tional war: they manifest as permanent, asymmetric
local and mobile wars between numerous transna-
tional actors, and they extend beyond geographical

— 341 —
boundaries. The Syrian case presents an example of
how local conflicts involve the whole international
community: epochal migrations, global terrorism
and widespread violence affect globally every per-
son regardless of any economic, social and religious
boundaries.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

We understand cities as places designed to offer the


wider facilities for significant conversations. The word
polis implies originally a double meaning: an urban
settlement with its historic stratifications and evolu-
tionary process but also the community of its inhab-
itants with their common heritage and future aspira-
tions. The process of reconstruction of both implies,
in a solid cosmopolitan view, a continuous shift be-
tween continuities and changes through a process of
external contamination and internal discussion. The
reconstruction of Syria implies not only interventions
on cities, rural environments, archaeological sites and
production networks, but above all a transformation
of society. We must tackle the profound wounds that
are created by the conflict and imagine not only the
shape and form of the future but also the complex so-
cial mechanisms involved in the process.

What is the role of the architect in this process? What


action space must we build in order to make our voices
heard? Today architects stand at the receiving end of
the decision-making process. Legislators, financiers,
military men and scientists are already being asked to
give their opinion on the reshaping of the new post-
war Syria, but architects and urban and city planners
have hardly been consulted and remain on the margins
of the plans. The Venice Charter On Reconstruction
calls architects around the globe to act together as a
transnational pressure group, to join forces in a crea-
tive process based on solid data analysis, wise use of

— 342 —
available resources and socially responsible design
solutions. Architects should become managers of nat-
ural and social resources assuming the burdensome
task to both understand and improve the relationship
between people and their environment.

In a postwar condition where physical destruction,


economic devastation and broken social links endan-
ger the very survival of cities and their community,
contributing actively to shaping this environment is
the task of architects and urban planners. Notwith-
standing the importance of economic evaluations
and the complex matrix of political interventions we

V E N I C E C H A RT E R O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N
must underline that architects possess unique skills
relevant to the problem: the capacity to reshape the
physical reality on the basis of the social necessi-
ties of the community while appropriately managing
natural resources.

Architecture and urban planning

Article 01, ROLE OF ARCHITECTS: The role of archi-


tects and planners should extend beyond providing
design solutions working in cooperation with all in-
terested professional figures. We call for architects
and planners to be included in the decision-circles
not only as consultants but as part of the urban and
regional planning process. Architecture should take
part in “rational” management of problems, and chal-
lenging the dominance of economists and politicians
in the global discourse.

Article 02, GRASSROOTS FACILITATOR: If archi-


tects are to take on greater responsibilities in global
decision-making circles, then they must also take on
a vital role in the initiation of grassroots planning
and local initiatives. Socially conscious architecture

— 343 —
gives spatial articulation to the pre-existing needs of
a society, helping them to articulate half-expressed
aspirations into an actual design program. These ex-
periences allow to create the critical mass necessary
to become a pressure group on larger decision-mak-
ing entities. Within this level, architecture and urban
planning act as device of mediation and enablement
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

by providing socially conscious solutions.

Article 03, MASTERPLAN: Planners and architects


should work with other specialists and experts with-
in an overall strategy to identify, protect, preserve
or rehabilitate what’s left, enrich the future, revital-
ize heritage and aim at a long-term sustainable de-
velopment strategy. We believe that it is possible to
mitigate the effects of war and encourage rethink-
ing general strategies not to be strict and predeter-
mined procedures but rather within a framework of
open guidelines and methods. Uncertainty must be
considered part of the nature and course of develop-
ment, and tools such as micro-planning within a com-
prehensive framework enable sustainable solutions
and self-cultivated development

Participation

Article 04, LOCAL FIRST…: The society that has lived


and experienced the war and its implications is both
the centre and aim of any developmental post-war
actions. Hence, the integration and participation of
society in decision-making at the early stages, is
the foundation of any post-war reconstruction, key
to the process and should not be considered a be-
stowed privilege.

Article 05, …THEN GLOBAL: Reconstruction is a


global process that involves the main actors of to-

— 344 —
day’s knowledge society: academic institutions, re-
gional and international organizations, NGOs, public
and private enterprises. All must coordinate actions
and efforts in a timely way and must exchange in-
formation and ideas while gathering local needs and
aspirations. We call for partnership with local institu-
tions stressing the role of higher education and civil
society as a tool of solidarity.

Article 06, SUM OF MICRONINTERVENTIONS: Par-


ticipatory processes are based on the principle of
empowerment, and must include a broad and bal-
anced spectrum of participants of local and small-

V E N I C E C H A RT E R O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N
scale initiatives at the level of neighbourhood or
building. Architects must facilitate micro interven-
tions that show a cautious attitude and avoid the im-
position of radical modernization agendas regarding
governance, constructive systems and economics.

Article 07, COLLECTIVE MAPPING: Global collec-


tive efforts should contribute to a comprehensive
mapping of territories stricken by conflicts and the
strategies deployed in response to them. Open ac-
cess to mapping data and to the maximum level of
information will allow the full exploitation of design
ideas, technical solutions, financial aid schemes and
functioning of social processes. All the records of
the documentation and intervention phases must be
open to the public and made available through care-
fully edited online and book publications.

Emergency relief and financial aid

Article 08, EMERGENCY PLAN: The current concept


of international aid operations cannot be guaranteed
as a solution in the reconstruction operations. There
are moments of relief and abundant outpouring of

— 345 —
aid that are spent through several, and sometimes
random, channels. Emergency planning actions usu-
ally leave the affected area without any future sus-
tainable plans. In-depth study of the different stages
of emergency must be prepared and each operation
must be re-connected with the subsequent recon-
struction periods.
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Article 09, SHORT RELIEF: The relief period must


be limited to the shortest possible timeframe. Relief
plans should be reduced in favour of sustainable de-
velopment during post-war reconstruction that can
be extended to longer, multiple and interlacing devel-
opment strategies. The financial and material effort
necessary for catastrophe relief must be directed
in a comprehensive logic that already envisions the
necessary steps towards post-war development and
the related risk assumptions. Recovery activities
must be integrated with relief operations: humani-
tarian aid and development support are thus linked,
bringing the earliest possible resumption of sustain-
able development to a troubled area.

Article 10, NOT ONLY MONEY: Post-war reconstruc-


tion plans must not abandon stricken areas to open
market operations and indiscriminate speculative in-
vestments that have proved destructive in many pre-
vious post-war plans. Real estate speculation cannot
guarantee any sustainable post-war reconstruction
plan when it benefits and privileges specific seg-
ments of the society over the common good.

Migrations & displacement

Article 11, REFUGEE CAMPS: Conflicts lead to the


augmentation of migrations that are already a key
factor in the global discourse. Today migrations sus-

— 346 —
pend the life of peoples: forcing them in life-threat-
ening journeys or caging them in refugee camps.
Refugee camps should be planned as new towns or
settlements that can be used during the peace time
by the community for other functions. The migration
process must be considered as a resource, managing
the displacement in order to minimize dangers and
constructing institutions able to form specific abili-
ties such as technical knowledge and social reconcil-
iation. If refugee camps are considered affiliated to,
and part of the cities of tomorrow, refugees should
also be considered as new citizens contributing to
the growth of these cities future. Civic and moral

V E N I C E C H A RT E R O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N
awareness in the studies and strategies of immigra-
tion, and integration of the refugees and displaced
in near and distant countries are key factors for the
success of a sustainable post-war reconstruction.

Article 12, EDUCATION: War results in the damage


of the public infrastructure, the paralysis of the com-
munity, the disruption and suspension of education
along with other institutions that secure the welfare
of inhabitants and citizens in dispersed and afflicted
communities. Schooling, irrespective of the teaching
class form: in the absence of security or dedicated
buildings, must be considered as a priority for chil-
dren. Children forced out of their homes, living in
shelters, temporary or estranged conditions, must be
provided with education particularly through these
difficult times in their life.

Article 13, LAW OF RETURN: The value of place crys-


tallizes in the presence of its inhabitants as holders
of its culture. Hence the preservation of heritage and
culture is based on the return of residents to their
neighbourhoods. Reconstruction plans should work
beyond the geography of conflict and include strat-

— 347 —
egies that involve neighbouring and refugee-hosting
countries. Return strategies should begin where refu-
gees are and not where they should return to.

Article 14, DIASPORA: Post-war reconstruction


plans should include the possible and actual im-
plications of the diaspora. Despite several innate
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

challenges of identity and diversity, long-term and


short-term diasporic relations have to be seen as an
opportunity that can lead to the creation of transna-
tional networks and to de-territorialisation of identi-
ties. Diasporic relations guarantee the conservation
and broadening of the community, the implementa-
tion of financial possibilities and the construction of
new knowledge and social networks. The construc-
tive conflict between the inescapable locality of iden-
tity and the cosmopolitan attitude of diaspora must
be carefully managed and exploited.

Properties

Article 15, PROPERTY: Post-war planning should pri-


oritize and guarantee the rights of individuals and com-
munities to live and work. The property rights of the re-
turning refugees must be guaranteed through specific
international legislations and in the case of large dam-
aged areas the reconstruction process should be seen
as a community driven, rather than an owner driven,
process. Post-war reconstruction should be seen as
a chance to face the huge problems of land owner-
ship, that today represent one of the main obstacles to
sustainable urban development, carefully guiding the
process from a land-hold system to a land-lease one.

Article 16, GEOGRAPHIC REDISTRIBUTION: Post-


war reconstruction should study the population
distribution in proportion to the natural, social and

— 348 —
energetic resources and to their original place of liv-
ing before the war and ensure that reconstruction
phases can provide conscious and detailed solutions
in light of pre-war property and post-war sustainable
development. The alteration of urban and large-scale
density has to be considered as a possible develop-
ment tool and always be carefully discussed through
a process of community participation.

Heritage

Article 17, RIGHT TO HERITAGE: Urban heritage is


not limited to buildings, it is made of a continuous ur-

V E N I C E C H A RT E R O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N
ban texture, comprising contiguous buildings, access
ways and free spaces between buildings. City centres,
monuments and physical heritage must be preserved
during the reconstruction process, together with the
intangible heritage related to the value of human en-
vironment. When the surface buildings have been
destroyed by war operations, underground traces of
former buildings become accessible and form another
level of urban heritage, to be explored through proper
archaeological excavations. Therefore, post-war re-
construction is two-fold, related to building groups
existing above ground, and to underground buildings
uncovered by war destruction. Reconstruction must
avoid the obliteration of past material heritage and
social functions and become associated with the
empowerment of the social, environmental and cul-
tural aspects of heritage sites. The concept of cultural
identity in today’s society is continuously shifting and
adapting, and the reconstruction process should fol-
low this contamination hybrid path between the neces-
sity for memory and the adaptation to current uses.

Article 18, ARCHAEOLOGY: Whenever urban areas


have been devastated, an archaeological survey is

— 349 —
mandatory before reconstruction. If the survey identi-
fies valuable past remnants, full archaeological exca-
vations are needed, for a limited length of time (6 to
12 months, or more, depending upon the importance
of the site). At the end of this period, the findings
must be documented and topographically situated.
An evaluation determines whether the remnants can
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

be covered by reconstruction, transported elsewhere


for conservation while the site is freed for reconstruc-
tion, maintained and conserved adequately in situ in
the reconstructed area, or maintained and conserved
as a monument, precluding any reconstruction on
the spot. In this last case, the site is expropriated
and public authorities pay the original owner a fair
compensation. Alternative construction sites may
be considered for his project. The local population
is entitled to receive information about the collective
value of the findings, the importance and benefits of
tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Managing resources

Article 19, ENERGY: Themes such as alternative en-


ergy production, water management and adaptation to
climate change (that are today and will be tomorrow
among the main causes of conflicts) must become
the triggers of future development. The strategy must
follow an evolutionary trajectory with clear aims in a
timeline able to adapt to future changing conditions.
While the initial goals will be devoted to emergency re-
lief, the long-term objective will have to ensure a high
quality of life based on the principle of sustainability
and wise use, distribution and allocation of resources.

Article 20, DENSITY: The reconstruction process


must be approached as an occasion to open opportu-
nities for unexpected improvements. The evaluation

— 350 —
of existent urban texture and its damage level is the
trigger while the final aim should be an improvement
in density that allows the whole city to reach the rich
urban quality of the historical core while maximizing
energy efficiency and minimizing waste.

Article 21, INFRASTRUCTURES: It is important to


strive to rehabilitate basic physical infrastructure
for facilities and activities, including health and
education services, water and sanitation systems,
roads, telecommunications facilities and irrigation
systems. Modern industrial processes allow using
waste as raw materials, transforming a huge problem

V E N I C E C H A RT E R O N R E C O N S T R U C T I O N
into a key financial resource through the installation
of transformation facilities able to empower inhabit-
ants. We encourage the diversification and decentral-
ization of infrastructural strategies trying to mitigate
the effects of war in post-war planning.

The Venice Charter on Reconstruction is the result of discus-


sions initiated during the Urbicide Syria conference that took
place in palazzo Badoer in Venice 7th-8th of April 2016.

— 351 —
web: wave2017.iuav.it
mail: workshop2017@iuav.it

Printed by PRESS UP, Rome, November 2017


SYRIA - THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

Roberta Albiero Benno Albrecht


Felipe Assadi Reem Alharfoush
Aldo Aymonino M. Wesam Al Asali
Beals Lyon Arquitectos Maria-Thala Al-Aswad
Solano Benitez Alberto Ferlenga
BOM Architecture Jacopo Galli
Francesco Cacciatore Abdulaziz Hallaj
Ricardo Carvalho Manar Hammad
Armando Dal Fabbro Kilian Kleinshmidt
Salma Samar Damluji Fares Al-Saleh
Fernanda De Maio Nasser Rabbat
Gaeta Springall Architects
Antonella Gallo
Sinan Hassan
Ammar Khammash
Camillo Magni - Operastudio
Giancarlo Mazzanti
Patrizia Montini Zimolo
Paredes y Pedrosa
Ciro Pirondi
Plan Collectif
Attilio Santi
TAMassociati
UNLAB
João Ventura Trindade
VMX Architects

Incipit Editore 26,0 $ 22,0 €


FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

Roberta Albiero
— PALMYRA / 34°33’02”N 38°16’18”E

WHAT IF
OPEN WALLS?
A STRATEGY
SYRIA – THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE

FOR TADMOR
Roberta Albiero
— PALMYRA / 34°33’02”N 38°16’18”E

WHAT IF
OPEN WALLS?
A STRATEGY
FOR TADMOR
Sponsored by:

SYRIA – THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE


FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

W.A.Ve. 2017
Curator: Alberto Ferlenga
Scientific director: Benno Albrecht
Coordination: Jacopo Galli
Organization: Sara Altamore, Alessandro Dal Corso, Letizia Goretti, Tania Sarria
Tutors: Wesam Asali, Maria Thala Al Aswad, Mariam Eissa, Lujain Hadba, Reem Harfoush,
Hasan Mansour, Rolana Rabih, Mounir Sabeh Affaki, Fares Al Saleh
Administration: Lucia Basile, Piera Terone
Graduate Students: Lorenzo Abate, Stefano Bortolato, Leonardo Brancaloni, Michele Brusutti,
Stefano Busetto, Davide Cargnin, Susanna De Vido, Pietropaolo Cristini, Martina Fadanelli,
Martina Germanà, Eugenio Gervasio, Maria Guerra, Irene Guizzo, Alessia Iannoli, Vartivar Jaklian,
Michele Maniero, Maddalena Meneghello, Avitha Panazzi, Silvia Pellizzon, Camilla Pettinelli,
Mariagiulia Pistonese, Giacomo Raffaelli, Elena Salvador, Antonio Signori, Sonia Zucchelli

Roberta Albiero
What If Open Walls? A Strategy For Tadmor

Incipit Editore ISBN: 978-88-85446-11-3


Università Iuav ISBN: 978-88-99243-19-7

Published by
Incipit Editore S.r.l.
via Asolo 12, Conegliano, TV
editore@incipiteditore.it

Co-published with
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Santa Croce 191, Venezia, VE

First edition: November 2017

Cover design: Stefano Mandato


Book design: Margherita Ferrari
Editing: Emilio Antoniol, Luca Casagrande, Margherita Ferrari
Text editing: Teodora Ott
Photos: Rosalba Bertini, Gabriele Bortoluzzi, Matteo Grosso, Umberto Ferro, Letizia Goretti,
Luca Pilot

Copyright

This work is distributed under Creative Commons License


Attribution - Non-commercial - No derivate works 4.0 International
CONTENTS

5 W.A.Ve. 2017

6 Peace and Archi tecture

10 Palmyra

19 Sig ns in time

21 Wal l s of peace

28 The workshop

60 Colophon
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 4 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W.A .Ve. 201 7


Al ber to Ferlenga

W.A.Ve. is now at its fifteenth edition but, despite this, its characterising
formula still works. Since its beginning, when it did not have its current
name yet, being a design workshop and an international architecture ex-
hibition at the same time has made it a unique product. If we consider
that each year more than 1,500 students and 30 teachers are involved, we
cannot deny that even the numbers are sizable. In these 15 years, about
23,000 students (not counting students from abroad) and 450 architects

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
(not counting assistants) have developed a project experience at Univer-
sità Iuav di Venezia that takes place in a narrow span of three weeks,
during which Iuav venues become training and meeting sites. Its open-air
workshop feature has brought many prestigious architects and names of
the international scene to the classroom venues of the Cotonificio Ven-
eziano and Magazzini: Pritzker prizes such as Eduardo Souto de Moura or
Alejandro Aravena, masters such as Yona Friedman and Pancho Guedes,
and renowned professionals such as Sean Godsell or Carme Pinos. Under
their guidance, Iuav undergraduates and foreign participants have devel-
oped (together and making no age distinction) a project experience that
pertains to the city of Venice and many other places as well. The same
summer days also see the spaces of the Santa Marta Auditorium and the
Tolentini Cloister become the scene of large conferences, making it pos-
sible for hundreds of students to follow the latest international projects or
reflections on the most pressing issues concerning cities and territories.
Above all, however, W.A.Ve. is special for the atmosphere that it creates
during its three weeks of work; discussions, projects, and meetings are
often expanded and brought outside the classrooms, in bars and Vene-
tian campi, and in the exhibitions that follow, transforming the campus of
Santa Marta into a major international architecture showcase.

For all these reasons, W.A.Ve. is unique and renowned among architects
and students of Architecture around the world, becoming one of the most
representative expressions of a school, Iuav, that has built its peculiar qual-
ity on international exchange, laboratory experience, and on city studies.

— 5 —
Pea c e a n d A rc h itec t u re

Benno Albrecht

1 — Elio Vittorini in
We invited many architects to Venice, to contrib-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

“Il Politecnico”, n. 1,
September 29, 1945. ute to the discussion on the reconstruction of
countries destroyed by the madness of men. Like
2 — Pierre Rosanval-
lon, “La democrazia a round table, Università Iuav di Venezia became
dell’emergenza”, “La the venue for the dialogue and discussion on the
Repubblica”, April 16,
2012. possibilities of architecture to preserve and recon-
struct Peace. The will and desire for Peace was the
guest of honour of our 2017 W.A.Ve. workshop.

A post-WWII Italian intellectual, Elio Vittorini, said


that it was necessary to form “not a culture that
consoles in times of suffering, but a culture that
protects from it, fighting and eliminating it”1.

We see the University as an institution that serves so-


ciety and the generations of the future, alertly vigilant
and working to stay one step ahead. The relationship
between Universities and Administrations can become
operational and productive, precisely because the uni-
versity is the exact place to test hypothetical future
models — an “Academy of the Future”2, as described by
Pierre Rosanvallon — to overcome the fragmentation of
knowledge and educate in global civic responsibility.

In Iuav’s W.A.Ve. workshop, a future of Peace, the


reconstruction of Peace, has become an academic
topic, a forecast technique, and an experience in
practical planning of the future.

The immanence of the “environmental and human


disaster” that we see today in Syria overcomes the

— 6 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

3 — Valéry Antoine
concept of architecture (understood as a need, Claude Pasquin, “Venise
consequence or manifestation of something else), et ses environs”, Société
leading the discipline to inevitably participate, as belge de librairie, Brux-
elles, 1842, p.2.
an integral part, in the resolution of a local/global
“political and environmental” issue. In fact, one 4 — Letter from John
Adams to Abigail Ad-
of the most pressing topics in the field of civil ams, post 12 May 1780,

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
commitment (and in the operational field of archi- in L.H. Butterfield, Marc
Friedlaender, eds., “Ad-
tecture) is how to deal with the consequences of ams Family Correspond-
urbicides, with the deliberate violence against cit- ence”, Belknap Press
of Harvard University
ies, with their destruction, and with the intentional Press, Cambridge,1973.
elimination of collective memory made of stone.

Venice is where reflecting on these things is pos-


sible: a city that was described, by Richard Bon-
ington and by Antoine-Claude Valéry, as “a Pal-
myra of the Sea”3.

However, we side these reflections with the words


that John Adams wrote to his wife from Paris:
“The science of government is my duty to study,
more than all other sciences; the arts of law and
administration and negotiation should take the
place of, indeed, exclude, in a way, all other arts.
I must study politics and war, that our children
may have freedom to study mathematics and phi-
losophy. Our sons must study mathematics and
philosophy, geography, natural history and naval
architecture, navigation, commerce and agricul-
ture in order to give their children a right to study
painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tap-
estry and porcelain”4.

— 7 —
SYRI A – THE M A K IN G OF T H E F U TU R E

S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

KOBANE

ALEPPO
AL BAWABIYA RAQQA
TA’UM
NAHLAYA ARIHA
LATAKIA

HAMA
KAFR BUHUM
TARTUS

PALMYRA

BEIRUT
MA’LŪLĀ

DAMASCUS
DARAYYA AL MEZZEH
DOUMA
JARAMANA
QABOUN
SAROUJA

SHAHBA

AMMAN

— 8 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W. A . Ve. 2 0 1 7

ALEPPO NAHLAYA
Armando Dal Fabbro Solano Benitez
Fernanda De Maio
Patrizia Montini Zimolo
Paredes y Pedrosa
PALMYRA
Roberta Albiero
UNLAB
Francesco Cacciatore
Gaeta Springall
Camillo Magni
Architects
Attilio Santi
Sinan Hassan
Damascus
AL MEZZEH Damascus
MOSUL VMXarchitetti
QABOUN

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
TAMassociati
ARIHA
Plan Colletif
RAQQA
Giancarlo Mazzanti
AL BAWABIYA
Felipe Assadi
Damascus
SAROUJA
DARAYYA BOM Architecture
Aldo Aymonino
Beals Lyon Arquitectos
SHAHBA
João Ventura Trindade
Damascus
DOUMA
Antonella Gallo

BAGHDAD HAMA
Ammar Khammash

Damascus
JARAMANA
Ciro Pirondi

KOBANE
Ricardo Carvalho

MA’LULA
Salma Samar Damluji

— 9 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

PALMYRA
- 36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
Population
2004 55,062
2017 51,015

Description
Palmyra is a city in the centre of Syria, administratively part of the
Homs Governorate. It is located in an oasis in the middle of the Syrian
Desert, northeast of Damascus and southwest of the Euphrates River.
Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one
of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. The ruins
of ancient Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are situated about
500 m southwest of the modern city centre. The modern city is built
along a grid pattern.

— 11 —
to Homs

0 5 km
PALMYRA TADMOR
to Homs

PALMYRA TADMOR

archeological site

0 1 km
Palmyra airport
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 16 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

— After ISIS first seized


Palmyra in May 2015,
a selection of 42 areas
across the site were
examined in the satellite
imagery. Of these, 3
were totally destroyed,
7 severely damaged, 5
moderately damaged,
and at least 10 pos-
sibly damaged. Many
historical buildings have
been destroyed, like the
Palmyra museum, the
great temple of Ba’al,
and the Valley of the
Tombs (the large-scale
funerary monuments

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
outside the city walls).
Syrian government
forces regained Palmyra
on 27 March 2016 after
intense fights against
ISIL fighters.

— 17 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Signs in tim e

Gi useppe Biasi

As designers, questioning the future of a dramatic


present, whose form is confusing and not yet de-
fined, means dealing with an idea of non-linear ur-
ban time, building a relationship between the city
and its sudden changes and overturning conditions.
In this idea, there are two lines of development.
The first is to build an image of the city by defin-

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
ing a form. A form that is completed and traceable
over time, whether understood as a unitary form or
as a set of multiple fragments in relation to each
other. The second, on the contrary, consists in the
construction of an abstract model, able to take
charge of possible variables and different interpre-
tations. This is to oppose the forma urbis that can
be achieved through one or more interventions: a
device for its growth regardless of the changing
needs, modes, and times of use.

The work of the W.A.Ve. studio was developed on


this second line of research. Open Walls investigates
the “wall” as a place of possibilities, of becoming,
of opening. Students are confronted with the wall as
a founding element of architecture. As a permanent
element, the wall becomes the support for multiple
activities. Placed according to a matrix of parallel
walls, alternating themselves in a part of the city of
Palmyra, near the now destroyed prison. Made of
raw ground blocks, the walls collect technological
infrastructure for their related activities. The stu-
dents were organised in groups and, with different
themes, worked on the wall portions they were as-
signed by developing residences, a first aid centre, a

— 19 —
school, an archaeological mission, a market, worship
spaces, and other activities that were located in the
destructed city within. The project was organised in
stages: the construction of the wall matrix, the first
necessary settlement, and finally a hypothesis of
future use after the reconstruction of the city. The
different approaches to the project allowed students
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

to question the permanence of signs and traces, the


projection of an idea, and the verification of its limits.

An uninterrupted temporal dimension suspended


between the construction site and the ruin emerges
from the overlapping of the phases and projects. The
permanence of the founding sign, and its possible
iteration in the area, has identified the place of cri-
sis as a place of possibility. A new temporal ring in
which ruins become a starting point, marking their
presence in the evolution of the city.

— 20 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Walls of pea c e

R ober t a Albiero

The work of the W.A.Ve. studio explored the future of


Syria, starting from a reflection on its extraordinary
past. In its history, Syria has been a crossing place for
exchanges, coexistence, flows of goods and, above all,
of ideas. Palmyra represented, in particular, an impor-
tant centre along the Silk Road for exchanges between
the East and the West. The destruction of the archaeo-

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
logical heritage of Palmyra does not only represent an
attack on memory, identity, and on a culture, but also
a crisis of its resources: tourism and agriculture. The
future has to start from here.

Water
Water is the resource that gave birth to the ancient
town of Palmyra, which is close to a unique and spec-
tacular oasis, rich in water and cultivated gardens.
Currently, military and arbitrary management of water
by the same population is impoverishing the territory
and the food resources. The first intervention we sug-
gest is therefore the rationalisation of the water sys-
tem, once organised through a sophisticated channel
and shaft system. The introduction of a new aque-
duct will serve the city and the agricultural areas. A
series of reconstruction works and a new settlement
system will be developed along the aqueduct, which
runs through the barracks (barracks and prison areas
currently being destroyed). They will initially serve
as a support for the population still stationed there
or returning. Since it will take a long time to resume
tourism, agriculture must go back to be its first lead-
ing force to restart the economy.

— 21 —
Wall

The wall is today considered as an emblem of sepa-


ration, closure, exclusion, rejection, and denial of the
“other”. But the wall is also the archetype of the pri-
mary space of living: the fence. The W.A.Ve. studio
re-interpreted the idea of the wall as an artefact, built
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

as the first step towards a future of peace and coex-


istence. The aim is to give life to an open, aggregat-
ed, self-produced, flexible, self-sufficient, welcoming,
and expandable structure.

Open Walls is a strategy.

The long list of separation walls existing today:


Bulgaria-Turkey, 2014, km 30
Saudi Arabia–Yemen, 2013, km 1,800
Israel–Egypt, 2010, km 230
Iran–Pakistan, 2007, km 700
Zimbabwe–Botswana, 2003, km 482
Israel–Palestine, 2002, km 730
United States–Mexico, Tijuana wall, 1994, km 1,000
Kuwait–Iraq, 1991, km 190
Ceuta and Melilla–Morocco, 1990, Km 8.2 e km 12
Morocco–Western Sahara, Berm, 1989, km 2,720
India–Bangladesh, 1989, km 4,053
Cyprus, Greek area–Turkish area, green line, 1974, km 300
Ireland, Catholic Belfast–Protestant Belfast, peace lines,
1969, km 13
North Korea–South Korea, 1953, km 4
India–Pakistan, line of control, km 550
Pakistan–Afghanistan, Durand Line, km 2,460

— 22 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Open Walls is a new settlement system is generated


from the wall concept: linear and horizontal, complex
and sensitive to the pre-existent conditions. It will es-
tablish new relations with the landscapes of Palmyra:
the ruins of the archaeological city, the oasis, the infor-
mal city, the military zone, and the horizon.

Open Walls is an infrastructural system, conceived as


a new part of the landscape that will host functions
variable in time and space. It is a sort of skeleton
made of parallel walls (the permanent structure) that
can be filled in different ways (temporary architec-

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
tures). This brings to many adaptation possibilities
of its functions over time and over the needs of the
population. These primary functions are: houses,
first aid centres, markets, archaeological centres,
schools, religious buildings, gardens, and agricul-
tural areas. The matrix of the parallel walls can be
expanded, replicated, enlarged, or reduced. The pat-
tern of parallel walls comes from a Timgad project by
Valter Tronchin, freely interpreted.

Memorial garden

The areas in which the new interventions are lo-


cated, structured by the territorial sign of the aq-
ueduct, are contained in the military zone, between
the prison and the barracks, both destroyed by ISIS
in May 2015. The prison of Tadmor, built by the
French in the 1930s, is a place where thousands
of political dissidents were humiliated, tortured,
and executed. As Amnesty International said, it
represented a source of despair and degrading
treatments. It is synonymous with death, horror,
and madness. Among the most cruel prisons in the
world, Tadmor Prison represents a place of collec-
tive memory. The destruction of Tadmor prison is

— 23 —
a demagogic attempt to erase a memory that can-
not be cancelled. It would be a crime that covers
crimes. We suggest preserving the memory of this
history of death by transforming the ruins of the
prison into a memorial garden, called the Garden
of the Soul: a quiet place for the spirit, a place to
not forget. The garden is structured as a sort of
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

negative of the prison’s morphology: a series of


dug out squares representing the courts around
which the prison was built. The debris of the ac-
cumulated ruins will form a ziqqurat, a sort of hill
to climb in order to see the entire garden. The me-
morial garden will be planted with olive trees and
will a museum of the prison in its dark and silent
underground.

Working with time

The project is developed through a sequence of steps.

Step1 - Based on the construction of the aqueduct


and of the memorial garden on the prison’s ruins.

Step 2 - This phase involves the construction of the


paired-parallel wall structure.

Step 3 - Walls begin to be inhabited. The spaces be-


tween the iterated walls will accommodate functions
of immediate necessity: temporary houses, children
educational areas, markets, medical offices, archae-
ological missions, public spaces such as a theatres,
gardens, and agricultural areas.

Step 4 - When tourism will be present again, at a later


stage, the system might be transformed into a mu-
seum complex comprising places for research, res-
toration, training, and hospitality.

— 24 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Construction and technology

The parallel pairs of seven-metre high walls will be


made of raw compressed earth blocks of the Ado-
be type. A Compressed Earth Block (C.E.B.), also
known as a pressed earth block or a compressed
soil block, is a building material made primarily
from damp soil compressed at high pressure to
form blocks. Compressed Earth Blocks use a me-
chanical press to form blocks out of an appropriate
mix of fairly dry inorganic subsoil non-expansive
clay and straw.It is an old and sustainable material,

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
easy to make and infinitely recyclable. Placed on
a base of local limestone, the walls are made with
plastered 60 cm-thick masonry. Inside, the walls
host the primary infrastructures: water and energy.
We believe that this system can be self-sufficient
from the energy point of view. The blocks will be
made locally, by the inhabitants themselves. It is
therefore an assisted self-construction process.
This will incentive low costs, flexible times, and
immediate adaptation to the needs of the inhabit-
ants. Using small blocks of compressed raw earth,
students physically experimented ways to actually
build this wall. Adobe blocks used for these exper-
iments and for the structure model at 1:50 scale,
were kindly provided by Matteo Brioni.

The work was carried out by eleven groups of


students who developed single parts of the pro-
gramme. Starting from imaging and understanding
the wall as an artefact made with Adobe blocks,
they explored ways to break, open, enter, light, and
climb the wall in order to inhabit it. All the propos-
als converged under a profound project unity. Two
collective models resulted from the experiments.
The first, a raw earth model (scale 1:50), shows

— 25 —
the construction of the permanent structure in
the first step of the process; the second model, in
which walls are transformed and filled in, demon-
strates the potentiality of the matrix in accepting
different ideas of architecture.

We dedicate this work to our dear friends Valter


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Tronchin and Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas, talent-


ed architects who died prematurely.

— 26 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

B ibliograph y

Albiero R., Coccia L., “Abitare il recinto”, Gangemi, Roma, 2008.
Albiero R., Gaggio M., Ravagni L. (eds.), “La valigia di Valter. L’architettura
per Valter Tronchin”, Gangemi, Roma, 2012, pp. 88-95.
Barragan L., “Obra construida”, Consejeria de Fomento y Vivienda,
Andalucia, 1995.
Braudel F., “La Méditerranée”, Flammarion, 1985 (Italian ed., “Il Mediter-
raneo”, Fabbri, Milano, 1987).
Dardi C., “Semplice lineare complesso”, Edizioni Kappa, Roma, 1987.
Fathy H., “Architecture for the poor. An experiment in Rural Egypt”, The

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
University of Chicago Press, United States, 2000.
Simounet R., “D’une architecture juste”, Le Moniteur, Paris, 1997.
Torrecillas A. J., in “Collective experiment II”, in “El Croquis” 149, Madrid,
2010, pp. 168-204.
Veyne P., “Palmyre”, Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 2015 (Italian ed. “Palmi-
ra. Storia di un tesoro in pericolo”, Garzanti, Padova, 2016).

— 27 —
Back to the
future. The
memorial
garden will
save the
history of
Tadmor’s
prison.
— 29 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 30 —
— 31 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 32 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

— Model of the memo-


rial garden scale 1:200.

— Memorial garden.
Tadmor’s prison before
disctruction and the
plan of the memorial
garden built on its ruins.

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R

— 33 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 34 —
— 35 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
In between.
Open Walls as
a permanent
infrastructure
settlement
for primary
needs.
— 37 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 38 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

— Sketch for Open Walls


settlement project.

— Making walls.

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R

— 39 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 40 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

— Area of interventions
in the military zone.

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R

— 41 —
Spirituality
Students Team
Beatrice Tanduo
Devid Vidoni
Emiliano Zamaro

B
Federica Parlato
Nicola Varesco
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

A A

Ground Floor Plan

Longitudinal Section A-A

Cross Section B-B

— 42 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Shelter
Students Team
Juan Carlos Bjacà Herrera Giovanni Dalla Riva
Federica Bronzato Marco Leso
Denis Dalla Riva Giancarlo Melillo
B

10

Ground Floor Plan


B

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
D

C C

First Floor Plan


D

Longitudinal Section AA

Longitudinal Section CC

Cross Section BB / DD

— 43 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 44 —
— 45 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
Ed ucation
Students Team
Silvia Basso
Federica Biesso
Alberto Ferlin
Michela Maran
A

Eleonora Trento
Martina Zanchini
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

A’

C’

D’

Ground Floor Plan

B’

Longitudinal Sections C-C

Longitudinal Sections D-D

Cross Section A-A

— 46 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Health
Students Team
Gianmarco Colombo
Alberto Conte
Antonio Ferrara
Giorgia Gaggiato
Angela Sambo
Luana Tonon

A’

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
B’

Ground Floor Plan

C’

Longitudinal Section A-A

Longitudinal Section B-B

Cross Section C-C

— 47 —
A rena
Students Team
Federica Canella
Alberto Danese
Filippo Marcaggi
Riccardo Marcon
William Visentin
Francesco Zuccon
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

C B

Ground Floor Plan

C’ B’

Longitudinal Section A-A

Cross Section B-B

— 48 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Thermae
Students Team
Giulia Bersani
Davide Zaupa

B’

A’

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
C’

Ground Floor Plan

Longitudinal Sections A-A

Longitudinal Sections B-B

Cross Section C-C

— 49 —
No more
separation
walls.
Walls must
be opened
to support
life, protect,
receive, and
coexist.
— 51 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

— Model detail.

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
A rcheology
Students Team
Laura Antonello
Stefania Lomi
Elena Menegazzo
Greta Palladini
Veronica Santi
Giulia Zambello
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

Ground Floor Plan

Longitudinal Sections B-B

Longitudinal Sections C-C

Cross Section A-A

— 52 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

A gricolture
Students Team
Alessandro Doimo
Andrea Mestriner
Marta Modolo
Camilla Zanin
Luca Zanin
B’

A A’

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
Ground Floor Plan
B

Longitudinal Section A-A

Cross Section B-B

— 53 —
Gard en
Students Team
Silvia Bordignon
Alberto Fabiano
Filippo Niero
Annachiara Stefani
Eleonora Vinco
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

2
A

B’

1
3
B

A’

Ground Floor Plan

Longitudinal Section A-A

Cross Section B-B

— 54 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Museum
Students Team
Leonardo De Rossi Giacomo Sattin
Sebastiano Frison Matteo Tessari
Alberto Marafatto Lisa Zampieri
Giorgia Mellone

A A’

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
Ground Floor Plan
B’

Longitudinal Section A-A

Cross Section B-B

— 55 —
Market
Students Team
Giacomo Sancilotto
Alberto Nardo
Anna Cecchin
Dunia Maccagni
Leonardo Lunardelli
Valeria Rigato
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 56 —
— 57 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 58 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R

— The musician Fuad


Ahmadvand performing
his composition based
on the Open Walls
structure.

— 59 —
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 60 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Rober ta A lb iero
— Venice, Italy

Roberta Albiero is Associate Professor of Architec-


tural and Urban Design at Università Iuav di Venezia.
She graduated in 1992 and collaborated with Portu-
guese offices in Porto and Lisbon (J. M. Gigante, A.
Rocha, G. Byrne). She obtained her PhD in Urban and
Architecture Design at the Politecnico di Milano. She
currently teaches in the Advanced Specialisation Pro-
gramme (Master) of Architecture Design in the Atelier
of Environmental Sustainability, and in W.A.Ve. cours-

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
es. She has given lectures and workshops in Italian
and foreign universities (Milan, Naples, Camerino,
Parma, Reggio Calabria, Lisbon, Evora, Granada).

She is the author of studies on Italian architecture of


the 20th century and on the Portuguese J.L. Carrilho
da Graça. She is currently conducting research on
sustainable architecture for the Mediterranean area.
These researches, recognised with awards and re-
ports, underline the relationship between theory and
practice in architecture.

— 61 —
Tutors and G u ests

Giuseppe Biasi
Partner Architect of BBV, PhD in Urban Planning at Univer-
sità Iuav di Venezia. Professor at Iuav and at the Politec-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

nico di Milano, he is now involved in university courses


alongside his professional activity. He has attended na-
tional and international seminars and competitions.

Martina Ivancic
Graduated at Università Iuav di Venezia after several expe-
riences abroad (Germany and Spain).

Francesca Pasqual
Graduated at Università Iuav di Venezia after several expe-
riences abroad.

Giovanni Mucelli
Guest, lecture: Adobe walls.

Matteo Brioni
Guest, sponsor. Lecture: Raw earth.

Fuad Ahmadvand
Born and raised in Tehran, he is a composer and musician,
playing the Santur in the Safar Mazì group. He created
and performed a composition interpreting the rhythm and
measures on which the Open Walls project is based.

Member of the jury


Giulia Bonomini, Umberto Bonomini, Marco Molon.

— 62 —
Rob er ta Alb iero

Stud ents

Laura Antonello Marta Modolo


Silvia Basso Alberto Nardò
Giulia Bersani Filippo Niero
Federica Biesso Greta Palladini
Juan Carlos Bojaca’ Herrera Federica Parlato
Silvia Bordignon Valeria Rigato
Federica Bronzato Giacomo Sacilotto
Federica Canella Angela Sambo

W H AT I F O P E N W A L L S ? A S T R AT E G Y F O R TA D M O R
Anna Cecchin Veronica Santi
Gianmarco Colombo Giacomo Sattin
Alberto Conte Anna Chiara Stefani
Denis Dalla Riva Beatrice Tanduo
Giovanni Dalla Riva Matteo Tessari
Alberto Danese Luana Tonon
Leonardo De Rossi Eleonora Trento
Alessandro Doimo Nicola Varesco
Alberto Fabiano Devid Vidoni
Alberto Ferlin Eleonora Vinco
Antonio Ferrara William Visentin
Sebastiano Frison Emiliano Zamaro
Giorgia Gaggiato Giulia Zambello
Marco Leso Lisa Zampieri
Stefania Lomi Martina Zanchini
Leonardo Lunardelli Luca Zanin
Dunia Maccagni Camilla Zanin
Alberto Marafatto Davide Zaupa
Michela Maran Francesco Zuccon
Filippo Marcaggi
Riccardo Marcon
Giancarlo Melillo
Giorgia Mellone
Elena Menegazzo
Andrea Mestriner

— 63 —
web: wave2017.iuav.it
mail: workshop2017@iuav.it

Printed by PRESS UP, Rome, November 2017


SYRIA - THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE
FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

Roberta Albiero / What If Open Walls? A Strategy For Tadmor


Felipe Assadi
Aldo Aymonino
Beals Lyon Arquitectos
Solano Benitez
BOM Architecture
Francesco Cacciatore
Ricardo Carvalho
Armando Dal Fabbro
Salma Samar Damluji
Fernanda De Maio
Gaeta Springall Architects
Antonella Gallo
Sinan Hassan
Ammar Khammash
Camillo Magni - Operastudio
Giancarlo Mazzanti
Patrizia Montini Zimolo
Paredes y Pedrosa
Ciro Pirondi
Plan Collectif
Attilio Santi
TAMassociati
UNLAB
João Ventura Trindade
VMX Architects

Incipit Editore 10,0 $ 8,5 €


FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

Felipe Assadi
— AL BAWABIYA / 36°01’31’’N 36°89’12’’E

MIRRORING
THE FUTURE:
THE CITY OF
SYRIA – THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE

CHILDRENS
Felipe Assadi
— AL BAWABIYA / 36°01’31’’N 36°89’12’’E

MIRRORING
THE FUTURE:
THE CITY OF
CHILDRENS
Sponsored by:

SYRIA – THE MAKING OF THE FUTURE


FROM URBICIDE TO THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CITY

W.A.Ve. 2017
Curator: Alberto Ferlenga
Scientific director: Benno Albrecht
Coordination: Jacopo Galli
Organization: Sara Altamore, Alessandro Dal Corso, Letizia Goretti, Tania Sarria
Tutors: Wesam Asali, Maria Thala Al Aswad, Mariam Eissa, Lujain Hadba, Reem Harfoush,
Hasan Mansour, Rolana Rabih, Mounir Sabeh Affaki, Fares Al Saleh
Administration: Lucia Basile, Piera Terone
Graduate Students: Lorenzo Abate, Stefano Bortolato, Leonardo Brancaloni, Michele Brusutti,
Stefano Busetto, Davide Cargnin, Susanna De Vido, Pietropaolo Cristini, Martina Fadanelli,
Martina Germanà, Eugenio Gervasio, Maria Guerra, Irene Guizzo, Alessia Iannoli, Vartivar Jaklian,
Michele Maniero, Maddalena Meneghello, Avitha Panazzi, Silvia Pellizzon, Camilla Pettinelli,
Mariagiulia Pistonese, Giacomo Raffaelli, Elena Salvador, Antonio Signori, Sonia Zucchelli

Felipe Assadi
Mirroring The Future: The City Of Childrens

Incipit Editore ISBN: 978-88-85446-12-0


Università Iuav ISBN: 978-88-99243-20-3

Published by
Incipit Editore S.r.l.
via Asolo 12, Conegliano, TV
editore@incipiteditore.it

Co-published with
Università Iuav di Venezia
Santa Croce 191, Venezia, VE

First edition: November 2017

Cover design: Stefano Mandato


Book design: Margherita Ferrari
Editing: Emilio Antoniol, Luca Casagrande, Margherita Ferrari
Text editing: Teodora Ott
Photos: Rosalba Bertini, Gabriele Bortoluzzi, Matteo Grosso, Umberto Ferro, Letizia Goretti,
Luca Pilot

Copyright

This work is distributed under Creative Commons License


Attribution - Non-commercial - No derivate works 4.0 International
CONTENTS

5 W.A.Ve. 2017

6 Peace and Archi tecture

10 Al B awabiya

19 Introd uction

21 Mi r rori ng the future

26 The workshop

60 Colophon
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 4 —
Felip e Assadi

W.A .Ve. 201 7


Al ber to Ferlenga

W.A.Ve. is now at its fifteenth edition but, despite this, its characterising
formula still works. Since its beginning, when it did not have its current
name yet, being a design workshop and an international architecture ex-
hibition at the same time has made it a unique product. If we consider
that each year more than 1,500 students and 30 teachers are involved, we
cannot deny that even the numbers are sizable. In these 15 years, about
23,000 students (not counting students from abroad) and 450 architects

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


(not counting assistants) have developed a project experience at Univer-
sità Iuav di Venezia that takes place in a narrow span of three weeks,
during which Iuav venues become training and meeting sites. Its open-air
workshop feature has brought many prestigious architects and names of
the international scene to the classroom venues of the Cotonificio Ven-
eziano and Magazzini: Pritzker prizes such as Eduardo Souto de Moura or
Alejandro Aravena, masters such as Yona Friedman and Pancho Guedes,
and renowned professionals such as Sean Godsell or Carme Pinos. Under
their guidance, Iuav undergraduates and foreign participants have devel-
oped (together and making no age distinction) a project experience that
pertains to the city of Venice and many other places as well. The same
summer days also see the spaces of the Santa Marta Auditorium and the
Tolentini Cloister become the scene of large conferences, making it pos-
sible for hundreds of students to follow the latest international projects or
reflections on the most pressing issues concerning cities and territories.
Above all, however, W.A.Ve. is special for the atmosphere that it creates
during its three weeks of work; discussions, projects, and meetings are
often expanded and brought outside the classrooms, in bars and Vene-
tian campi, and in the exhibitions that follow, transforming the campus of
Santa Marta into a major international architecture showcase.

For all these reasons, W.A.Ve. is unique and renowned among architects
and students of Architecture around the world, becoming one of the most
representative expressions of a school, Iuav, that has built its peculiar qual-
ity on international exchange, laboratory experience, and on city studies.

— 5 —
Pea c e a n d A rc h itec t u re

Benno Albrecht

1 — Elio Vittorini in
We invited many architects to Venice, to contrib-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

“Il Politecnico”, n. 1,
September 29, 1945. ute to the discussion on the reconstruction of
countries destroyed by the madness of men. Like
2 — Pierre Rosanval-
lon, “La democrazia a round table, Università Iuav di Venezia became
dell’emergenza”, “La the venue for the dialogue and discussion on the
Repubblica”, April 16,
2012. possibilities of architecture to preserve and recon-
struct Peace. The will and desire for Peace was the
guest of honour of our 2017 W.A.Ve. workshop.

A post-WWII Italian intellectual, Elio Vittorini, said


that it was necessary to form “not a culture that
consoles in times of suffering, but a culture that
protects from it, fighting and eliminating it”1.

We see the University as an institution that serves so-


ciety and the generations of the future, alertly vigilant
and working to stay one step ahead. The relationship
between Universities and Administrations can become
operational and productive, precisely because the uni-
versity is the exact place to test hypothetical future
models — an “Academy of the Future”2, as described by
Pierre Rosanvallon — to overcome the fragmentation of
knowledge and educate in global civic responsibility.

In Iuav’s W.A.Ve. workshop, a future of Peace, the


reconstruction of Peace, has become an academic
topic, a forecast technique, and an experience in
practical planning of the future.

The immanence of the “environmental and human


disaster” that we see today in Syria overcomes the

— 6 —
Felip e Assadi

3 — Valéry Antoine
concept of architecture (understood as a need, Claude Pasquin, “Venise
consequence or manifestation of something else), et ses environs”, Société
leading the discipline to inevitably participate, as belge de librairie, Brux-
elles, 1842, p.2.
an integral part, in the resolution of a local/global
“political and environmental” issue. In fact, one 4 — Letter from John
Adams to Abigail Ad-
of the most pressing topics in the field of civil

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


ams, post 12 May 1780,
commitment (and in the operational field of archi- in L.H. Butterfield, Marc
Friedlaender, eds., “Ad-
tecture) is how to deal with the consequences of ams Family Correspond-
urbicides, with the deliberate violence against cit- ence”, Belknap Press
of Harvard University
ies, with their destruction, and with the intentional Press, Cambridge,1973.
elimination of collective memory made of stone.

Venice is where reflecting on these things is pos-


sible: a city that was described, by Richard Bon-
ington and by Antoine-Claude Valéry, as “a Pal-
myra of the Sea”3.

However, we side these reflections with the words


that John Adams wrote to his wife from Paris:
“The science of government is my duty to study,
more than all other sciences; the arts of law and
administration and negotiation should take the
place of, indeed, exclude, in a way, all other arts.
I must study politics and war, that our children
may have freedom to study mathematics and phi-
losophy. Our sons must study mathematics and
philosophy, geography, natural history and naval
architecture, navigation, commerce and agricul-
ture in order to give their children a right to study
painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tap-
estry and porcelain”4.

— 7 —
SYRI A – THE M A K IN G OF T H E F U TU R E

S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

KOBANE

ALEPPO
AL BAWABIYA RAQQA
TA’UM
NAHLAYA ARIHA
LATAKIA

HAMA
KAFR BUHUM
TARTUS

PALMYRA

BEIRUT
MA’LŪLĀ

DAMASCUS
DARAYYA AL MEZZEH
DOUMA
JARAMANA
QABOUN
SAROUJA

SHAHBA

AMMAN

— 8 —
Felip e Assadi

W. A . Ve. 2 0 1 7

ALEPPO NAHLAYA
Armando Dal Fabbro Solano Benitez
Fernanda De Maio
Patrizia Montini Zimolo
Paredes y Pedrosa
PALMYRA
Roberta Albiero
UNLAB
Francesco Cacciatore
Gaeta Springall
Camillo Magni
Architects
Attilio Santi
Sinan Hassan
Damascus
AL MEZZEH Damascus
MOSUL VMXarchitetti
QABOUN

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


TAMassociati
ARIHA
Plan Colletif
RAQQA
Giancarlo Mazzanti
AL BAWABIYA
Felipe Assadi
Damascus
SAROUJA
DARAYYA BOM Architecture
Aldo Aymonino
Beals Lyon Arquitectos
SHAHBA
João Ventura Trindade
Damascus
DOUMA
Antonella Gallo

BAGHDAD HAMA
Ammar Khammash

Damascus
JARAMANA
Ciro Pirondi

KOBANE
Ricardo Carvalho

MA’LŪLĀ
Salma Samar Damluji

— 9 —
Felip e Assadi

AL BAWABIYA
36°01’31’’ N 36°89’12’’ E

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


Population
2004 2,790
2017 8,500

Description
Al Bawabiya is a village about 35 km south of Aleppo, and about 1.5
km off Damascus. The village has a population of more than 8,500
people in 1,000 housing units, including 400 families originally from
Al Bawabiya and 1,100 displaced from Aleppo, Homs, and Hama. Cur-
rently, it is accessible via the Aleppo - Damascus international high-
way M5. The village’s main roads are paved and in relatively good con-
dition. In addition, there is a field road used by civilians to transport
crops. However, rubble removal work is needed in order to restore ap-
propriate access. The village has 4 schools managed by more than 40
teachers and staff members.

— 11 —
To’um

0 5 km
South Aleppo

Kafr Aleppo

AL BAWABIYA
AL BAWABIYA

ICARDA center

to Damascus

0 1 km
to Aleppo
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 16 —
Felip e Assadi

— Al Bawabiya was
subject to much shelling
and airstrikes that
caused multiple IDPs,
and the village was
abandoned for 10 - 12
months. By February
2016, families began to
return to their homes,
as confirmed by the
village council after
the end of conflicts.
The 1,500 metre-long
main road is heavily
damaged and in need of
paving. The village high
school was completely
destroyed, therefore

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


the community rented
a warehouse in order to
provide students with
basic education.

— 17 —
Felip e Assadi

In trod uction

Diego Garcia de la Huerta, Rodrigo Santa María, Victor Villalobos

This workshop was developed in three stages.


The first was a period of analysis and reflection,
in which the students answered questions on the
future of cities and the processes of reconstruc-
tion in war sites. In groups of 5 students, they
each designed their vision of a new city for the
children of Syria.

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


We obtained ten surprising results, and took the
best of them, as a collaborative city project, to
set up a new urbanisation that we call the City of
Children: 10 sites for which each group proposed
programmes and buildings.

In the second stage, each group worked on a site


and its respective buildings. However, there were
10 proposals and therefore important design agree-
ments to be made between all groups, resulting in a
harmoniously global work.

The students’ response to our requests was al-


ways proactive, prompt, informed, and, most im-
portantly, participatory.

The third stage was the assembly and production


of all final materials which, thanks to the effec-
tive participation of the whole workshop, obtained
a result that, seen from afar, looked like one single
grand project.

While we were developing our City of Children, a


group of children in Syria drew and painted their

— 19 —
ideal city. Monitored by their teachers and nursery
schools, their drawings answered three questions
we sent them from Venice: How do you imagine
your city in the future? How do you imagine your
playground? And how would you like your house to
be tomorrow?
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

The drawings were put on display in our room dur-


ing the day of the exhibition of the workshop.

— 20 —
Felip e Assadi

Mirroring th e fu tu re

Felipe Assadi

Are we able to rebuild cities in constant destruc-


tion? Do we have the tools to impose constructive
non-local systems to local problems? Do we know
how to distinguish between urgency and emergency
solutions? Who is really responsible for the rebuild-
ing of a nation?

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


We think that the great answer to this last question
comes down to the children. Our project proposes
to take care of the children of today, who will be the
real ones in charge of rebuilding their cities tomor-
row, and preserve their traditions, their history, their
customs, and, in short, their heritage.

Al Bawabiya is the city in which those working in


Aleppo and Damascus sleep and live in. As a result,
it had one of the largest populations of children in
Syria. Today, two out of three children in Al Bawabiya
are orphaned, either because their parents have died
or because they are in exile or prison. If we are able
to have these children grow up well, we will be lay-
ing the foundations for their reconstruction. We can-
not rebuild infrastructure if we do not strengthen the
foundation of society.

Mirroring the future is nothing more than seeing the


reflection of the future in here and now. The future
will not be in our hands, but in those of the men of
the future. Development depends on them, and it
is to them that we have dedicated this workshop.
We designed the new Al Bawabiya like a great chil-
dren conservatory. Since we know that this war may

— 21 —
never end, and since people in Syria are subjected to
continuous and programmed attacks, we have worked
on an unfinished intervention model, which does not
seek to rebuild a destroyed infrastructure but pretends
to be a start-up infrastructure for future reconstruc-
tion. We also know that Al Bawabiya is not character-
ised by architecture of historical or patrimonial inter-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

est. Therefore, our effort was not focused on studying


what was on the ground, but on the contrary, on those
who have to redo it.

Mirroring the future is a work that seeks to analyse a


wide range of variables involved in a disaster scenar-
io, and to design proposals that are coherent, innova-
tive, and, above all, relevant to the political, social,
and physical context.

The site

Al Bawabiya is a village about 35 kilometers from


Aleppo, Syria, and about 1.5 kilometers off the road to
Damascus. It is one of Aleppo’s countryside villages,
administratively part of Samaan Mount province, Al-
Zirba district, located in the west of the Aleppo to Da-
mascus international highway, and it is a link and tran-
sit point between the southern countryside of Aleppo
and the northern-eastern countryside of Idleb villages.

The city has a population of more than 8,500 living


in 1,000 housing units. The total population includes
1,100 families from Al Bawabiya’s original population.
62 displaced families (about 400 individuals), displaced
from several areas, mainly the southern countryside of
Aleppo, Aleppo city, Homs and Hama. IDPs are living
in rented houses and unfinished buildings with owners’
permissions. There are more than 60 houses affected
with light and/or heavy repairable damage and over 20

— 22 —
Felip e Assadi

houses destroyed. Some owners of these houses were


displaced within the village – living with their relatives
– while some have left the village.

By February 2016, families started to go back to their


homes. Moreover, Bawabiya became a host commu-
nity hosting more than 400 IDPs.

Airstrikes and conflicts left Bawabiya with different


types of destruction and with no presence of any hu-
manitarian actor to support the community. The shelter
and infrastructure conditions worsened and many fam-

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


ilies have had to leave the village seeking shelter and
better livelihood conditions (especially those who have
lost their homes or have lost the head of the family).

As confirmed by the village council after the end of


conflicts, the civil defense teams cleaned the village
of unexploded war remnants and then allowed peo-
ple return to their homes.

The Ring

We believed that the new city had to be a recognis-


able from the air, as a geographically landmarked
circle of protection against future threats. The circle
emerged as a shape that is close to children’s sensi-
bility: they are used to playing inside them, a shape
that contains everything; a closed and infinite form
that has no beginning or end. It was the shape that
was chosen to give the new city its macro-structure.

Concentrated in the original centre of Al Bawabiya,


the city was developed as a huge 700 m-diameter
circle − made up of a pedestrian and bicycle street
varying between 5 and 10 m – that generated a sepa-
rate informative tour of the original city. The Ring, as

— 23 —
called it, also had an inclination of 2 degrees, so that
one part rises to 15 m of height, area in which most
buildings dedicated exclusively to education, wor-
ship, and dormitories and orphanages are located.
Another smaller part of the Ring was buried, generat-
ing a direct contact with the land and with the new
buildings that are related to sports, health, agricul-
S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

ture, and general services. Playgrounds were mostly


located in the areas where the Ring was connected
with the natural soil. However, as it was conceived as
a children’s city, playgrounds were adjacent to all the
buildings forming the city.

The Ring was a generic project, leaving 10 areas in


which the main buildings were organised as a first
stage of development. As an ideal city model, and
therefore replicable, we thought that this city of chil-
dren should at least contain the facilities necessary
to guarantee the use and permanence of a population
of children up to 14 years of age, able to receive their
families and health and education professionals.

The City of Children

The centre of everything was located near a water


source that, we were informed, was the starting
point of the original urbanisation of the city. Never-
theless, we tried to accommodate the circle so that
the points of union with the earth were in places
without constructions. The 700 m diameter was
chosen considering the urban area of the city. The
buildings were arranged radially and successively
around the Ring.

The road generated by the Ring, between 3 and 5 m,


was called Percorso Informativo. It was considered
a route over which people could communicate be-

— 24 —
Felip e Assadi

tween buildings, viewing at the ancient city from the


air and informing themselves of the reconstruction
processes taking place over time.

Site 1, farthest point from the most protected road,


was dedicated to the place of worship and library.
A few metres clockwise from it, Site 2 housed the
paediatric and nursing centre. The same site also
hosted the dormitories of the General orphanage and
an agricultural area at the ground level.

Sites 3, 4, and 5 respectively held the primary school,

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


the children’s canteens, and the secondary school.
Several of these buildings took the shape of a hill, to
become sources of protection against possible ter-
restrial attacks coming from the north.

Site 6 was the one connected to the city via highway.


It was designed to hold the storage centre, paediatric
centre, and the main access to the new city.

Site 7 was intended to welcome visitors. Students


designed a place for the accommodation of the fami-
lies of children living in the city, and the profession-
als who must attend them.

Site 8 was dedicated to sports: an extensive and


clear area of the city, in which the Ring was practi-
cally sunk into the earth. This tight connection with
the land proposed to this also the agricultural school
of the city.

Sites 9 and 10 were designed to respectively host the


hospital and market. After these last two, the circuit
of sites starts over again with the initial one and the
Ring begins to rise.

— 25 —
The Ring.
— 27 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 28 —
— 29 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 30 —
Site 1

Library
Place of worship

Information route
— 31 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 32 —
Site 2

Infirmary
Pediatric center

Information route
Dormitory orphanage
— 33 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 34 —
Site 3
Primary school
Information route
— 35 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 36 —
Site 4
Canteen
Information path
— 37 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


The City
of Children.
— 39 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 40 —
Site 5

Information path
Secondary school
— 41 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 42 —
— 43 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 44 —
Site 6

Pediatric center
Welcome center

Information path
Humanitarian warehouse
— 45 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 46 —
Hotel
Site 7
Foresteria

Information path
— 47 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 48 —
Sport
Site 8

Didactic garden
Information path
Agricultural School
— 49 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 50 —
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Felip e Assadi

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— 52 —
Site 9
Hospital
Information path
— 53 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

— 54 —
Bazaar
Market
Site 10

Information path
— 55 —
Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


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Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


Mirroring
the
future.
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Felip e Assadi

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


S YR I A – T HE M A K IN G OF TH E FUTURE FROM URBICIDE TO TH E A RCH ITECTURE OF TH E CIT Y

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Felip e Assadi

Felipe Assa di
— Santiago de Chile, Chile

Felipe Assadi graduated as an architect from the Uni-


versidad Finis Terrae and earned a Master’s Degree
from the Ponti cia Universidad Católica de Chile. In
1999, he won the Promoción Joven prize of the Co-
legio de Arquitectos de Chile, awarded to the best
architect under the age of thirty. He has taught at uni-
versities in Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Colombia, and
the United States. Since 2011, he has been the dean
of the Architecture School of the Universidad Finis

MIRRORING THE FUTURE: THE CITY OF CHILDRENS


Terrae. He has lectured in Venezuela, Peru, Mexico,
Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Argentina, the United States,
Italy, and Spain.

His work has been published in Wallpaper and the


Architectural Review (London), Arquitectura Viva and
av Monografías (Madrid), Architectural Record (New
York), ga (Tokyo), and Domus and Casabella (Milan),
as well as in specialised publications all over the
world. He has participated in exhibitions in Barce-
lona, Pamplona, London, Quito, Tokyo, and Santiago,
and his works have been con