On the 24th of October was a great honour to host the award winning TED speaker, architect and author, Marwa Al Sabbouni. Marwa is a Syrian architect who lives in Homs. In her book The Battle for Home (Thames & Hudson, 2016), Marwa explores the role architecture and the built environment play in whether a community crumbles or comes together. Living in Homs throughout the conflict Marwa's work offers far reaching insights into how her country should be rebuilt so that the tragic events seen in Syria will not happen again.
Her talk focused on how architecture played a crucial role in the slow unraveling of Syrian cities' social fabric, preparing the way for once-friendly groups to become enemies instead of neighbours. She also discussed what has happened in Syria since then, as well as touching upon subjects such as the role craftsmanship has to play in binding communities back together. In the face of some of the reconstruction efforts that have already begun, she promotes a craft-based approach that embraces the wisdom of earlier practices and the social interactions that they fostered. The audience was bursting with questions, eager to voice their opinions and experiences and Marwa's book sold like hot cakes.