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Recasting Fragments

Part 2 Project 2014
Amandeep Singh Kalra
Kingston University, UK
The collapse of governments within several countries in the Middle East has not only displaced millions of people from their homes but also damaged the cultural and historical heritage of the respective states.

Currently 10.8 million people are displaced in Syria alone, of which half are children. What can architecture do to address the current damage to the rich cultural heritage of Syria and the displacement of its citizens while setting the foundation to rebuild and rehabilitate a broken nation?

The starting point of this project was a series of ancient villages in northern Syria, known as “the dead cities”, of which eight are listed as UNESCO world heritage. These remarkable villages created along trade routes give exceptional testimony to rural life in late antiquity and the Byzantine period, yet now remain as ruins after being abandoned due to war in the 8th-10th century. These self-sustaining villages, made from local limestone were grouped around public buildings in the center with dwellings around the periphery. Syrian refugees, having fled the ruins of their own homes, are now occupying the ruins of these historic villages.

The project is located in Serjilla, within one of the ancient villages. It aims to absorb a series of observations of existing situations, recasting them into an ensemble, creating an abstract amalgamation to form a single building, which from different viewpoints references its antecedents. It allows refugees to learn - to make, exhibit and sell stone carvings made from the abundance of limestone scattered in the hills. Creating not only a strong sense of community and arming people with a purpose, volunteers help distraught Syrians to express themselves through creating. The carvings are to be sold generating income and serving as a declaration of refugees’ experiences. The communal factor of the project is emphasized in different ways, such as through the use of a communal bathing space with water extracted from a natural reservoir below ground. The project provides protection to an endangered heritage site, while arming locals with skills and confidence to help add another layer to the history of the site and their country.

Amandeep Singh Kalra


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