American Univesity of Beirut

Urban and landscape design studio: post-conflict reconstruction in the historic core of Aleppo, Syria

​​​​​​​​​​​The Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Policy and Design, Department of Architecture and Design​ | Professor Howayda Al-Harithy and Professor Jala Makhzoumi

The urban and landscape design studio investigated the role of urban design in shaping an “integrated social space" within the process of “cultural recovery," thus tackling one of the most challenging design problems of our region today. To that end, the studio took a critical look at the discourse and the approaches to post war reconstruction; from extreme preservationists who argued for the “obligation to make it again possible for future generations to experience historical continuity" to modernists who argued for the reconstruction as an opportunity to subject the city to rational planning.

The studio tackled as well the role of urban design strategies in the process of recovery using the framework of social and environmental justice. It focused on public space as a generator of the reconstruction process and took Aleppo in Syria as its context.

Students proposed innovative, feasible, concrete spatial strategies for recovery in Aleppo through the reconstruction / reconfiguration of public space in post war times, particularly those charged with cultural heritage and focused in the area of “That al-Qal'a.".

The position of the studio was four fold:

  • That the historical nucleus of the city is the most charged urban unit with the highest potential as a generator for urban reconstruction particularly in relation to long term sustainable cultural, social and economic development
  • That public space is a restructuring / a reconstructive element of the re-planned city
  • That cultural heritage is an adequate entry to post war recovery of identity and reconciliation of communities as it restores a sense of belonging through shared memories and cultural practices.
  • That the public realm is the platform to promote socially just governance and a participatory design approach ​

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