Syrian Garden Village

Project

In February 2011, Syria went to war and now, more than seven years later, the end seems to be far from over. The physical destruction of Syria is immense; cities, villages, infrastructures, water systems have been destroyed and internal and external financial resources are very limited.

How to imagine the near future of Syria

It has been chosen to act by applying a button-up strategy, a co-reconstruction of the country which starts from the small Syrian settlements. Throughout the Syrian territory it has been identified 560 villages with 2.500/10.000 inhabitants where it is possible to concentrate the urban fabric. That is an opportunity to rethink the Syria future through a territorial decentralization policy that brings into focus the sustainable territorial development of minor settlements.

Reconstruction can start from the right scale

The first step in rebuilding villages project is to define properties; the morphological structure of the traditional Arab city is preserved maintaining the pre-conflict ownership structures and reconstructing its limits. The boundaries are defined by a wall structure that contains the material of the previous buildings and collects technological infrastructure for territorial development.

Syrian garden village

In Al Sahharah the reconstruction starts from a series of fragments of open spaces, private gardens, places of peace, waiting and hope. The garden takes a morpho-genetic role, determines the articulation of space within the ownership structure, attracts new buildings and is able to construct dense spaces, where density is not only measured in terms of the number of dwellings but also as potential interaction between the inhabitants.
The principle of the garden will dominate the structure of the settlements which in turn will be able to spontaneously aggregate. The garden becomes an element of densification and at the same time it allows maximum flexibility. The landowner can choose to rebuild his house or more densify the plot by exploiting the water and electricity services offered by the existing infrastructure. In fact, the garden, in close relation with the enclosure, carefully manages the rainwater resource, collecting, filtering and directing it to the houses.
As a type of dwelling, it was decided to include a courtyard house model able to match the traditional domestic characteristics to the new residential needs of the local population.
That’s where the rebuilding and restocking of the village begins.

Interview

How and what means did you use to acquaint yourself with the territory?

First of all, a complex investigation that involved many aspects has been necessary, starting with the re-elaboration of the Syrian territory’s destruction maps, the observation of the bombarded areas, the assessment of the urban fabric damage and the study of the population movements. Meanwhile, we studied the development plans of Syrian cities and the Arabic Architecture using monographic documents, maps and web sources.

The design workshop W.A.Ve. 2017 (Syria The Making of a Future – from Urbicide to the Architecture of the City) has been a significant source of information. In this occasion we have been the opportunity to facing with many Syrian architects and students.

A precious opportunity to better understand the Syrian territory, the Arab culture and a special support to identify tools and techniques for the reconstruction.

How important was the mapping and understanding of climate circumstances as solar radiation and rainfall for the project?

The study of the climatic aspects of the Syrian territory have been fundamental in order to develop the urban and architectural system that needs to be adapted to the hostile climate.

The village enclosures and the houses shapes – closed to the outside and opened towards the courtyard – help to create comfort shaded areas.

The project is characterized by some elements that limit the abuse of water resources optimising the use of rainwater, and some other that help to reduce the excess of solar radiation.

What inspired/defined the language of representation of the project?

My intention was to represent an ideal scenario of a desirable future for Syria.

The source of inspiration has been the watercolours and illustrations of the Egyptian Architect Hassan Fathy: illustrations, manifesto, pieces of vernacular architecture, two-dimensional representations coexisting with the story dimension.

What vision does the image of Syria after the war evoke?

A future of peace and growth for the Country. An image of renaissance able to bring back together the community and producing economy. A Syria made of new fragments that help to preserve the memory and features of the territory. A place with new values that could be a starting point for something bigger.

What dictated the various drawings and scales through which you choose to reveal the design?

The nature of the illustrations highlight the specific features of the overall project.
We are talking about a complex project on a large scale that involves a collective environment, trying to understand the implications of the project in the territory. Focusing on the architectural scale of the project for the housing prototype, many technical and sustainable solutions were selected.

What lead you to explore and challenge the role of the garden?

Everything started from the idea to find a system able to support the identity, the familiarity and control part of the water resource.
The value of the garden, the space lived by the family, is becoming a reference for the reconstruction; a new concept that incorporates the tradition of the Islamic garden by introducing the energetic point of view. The garden is a living room for the family, an intimate place where the peace rules.

What tools did you use throughout the brief?

The QGIS software has been used to collect territorial data during the analysis phase. When I started to focus on my architectural project and all its constructive aspects I’ve used
Autocad 2d and Rhinoceros, whereas for the graphic representation I’ve used Photoshop and Illustrator.

What is for you the architects most important tool?

I believe that the ability of synthesis is the essential tool for an architect. The ability to simplify architecture in a way that the drawing is understandable to everyone, also for people outside of the architectural world.

When a work is in a kind of collaboration, the results get more and more value. For this reason, a special thanks to Marco Marino.

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