Architecture at Times of War: The Politics and Ethics of Destruction, Witnessing and Rebuilding

ASCA/NICA workshop

11 June, 13:00-15:00, Oudemanhuispoort C2.17 , 1 ECTS

To accompany Marwa Al-Sabouni’s lecture “From a Model of Peace to a Model of Conflict: The Effect of Architectural Modernization on the Syrian Urban and Social Make-up” (11 June, 16:00-18:00, University Theater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16), ASCA and NICA are organizing a seminar focusing on Architecture at Times of War, in which we will read parts of Al-Sabouni’s book The Battle of Home: Memoir of a Syrian Architect and contextualize it by connecting it to other work focused on the role of architecture before, during and after conflict situations by Judith Naeff and Eyal Weizman. We will discuss the politics, aesthetics and ethics of construction, destruction and rebuilding (how does architecture forge community but also antagonism between communities? what buildings tend to be targeted for destruction and/or conservation at times of war? and what considerations and interests govern the rebuilding process?), as well as the role of (destroyed) buildings and infrastructure as witnesses to atrocities, as teased out by the practice of forensic architecture.

Reading materials:

  • Marwa Al-Sabouni, The Battle for Home: Memoir of a Syrian Architect. London: Thames & Hudson, 2016. Chapters 2 & 6 (26-57 & 139-179).
  • Judith Naeff, “Disposable Architecture: Reinterpreting Ruins in the Age of Globalization – The Case of Beirut.” Global Garbage: Urban Imaginaries of Waste, Excess, and Abandonment. Ed. Christoph Lindner and Miriam Meissner. London: Routledge, 2015. p. 221-236.
  • Eyal Weizman, “Forensic Architecture: Only the Criminal Can Solve the Crime.” Radical Philosophy 164 (Nov./Dec. 2010): 9-24.

Organizer: Esther Peeren

To receive 1 ECTS, you need to attend the workshop, participate actively in the discussion and submit a discussion question about (one of) the readings to Esther Peeren ( by Friday 7 June at 12:00. To register, please send an email to Maximum number of participants: 25.