Istanbul, Turkey: Meeting inside Syria at the beginning of 2014, particularity in the ancient city of Aleppo a group of young architectures was aiming to plan for the reconstruction of Syria as they believe that planning for reconstruction should be during the conflict and not in the aftermath. They came out with the idea of Qibaa Studio which they named after the first architectural building in Islam, the mosque of Qibaa which is located in the city of Prophet Mohamed.
They define their aims through their Facebook page as “Qibaa’s work is aimed at developing sustainable practices through which we can spatially address the urgent needs of our communities in the current situation while setting the ground for a sustainable recovery process for our war-torn country on the long run.”
“The studio was targeted at the end of 2015 by one of the regime’s airstrikes,” wrote Amr Maged one of the founders of the studio through Facebook messages. “Most of our projects were inside Syria especially in the countryside of Idlib” he added.
Finding Sustainable Solutions for Displaced Camps
According to Amr, the vision of the studio is to educate people about the architecture that is homogeneous and inspired by their environment as they – the Qibaa team- are against the architecture that is isolated from the environment. They are also against commercialising of the reconstruction of Syria.
Inside the Internally Displaced Camps in Syria, the team along with the camps’ residents tried to develop different kinds of sustainable housing projects that can serve as an alternative to the tents. They were trying to mix soils and do experimental work for different kinds of buildings like the domes, to which the people’s response was positive, as described by the team in their project’s proposal.
A Trial to Preserve Heritage
“In 2016 we thought of a new project which is a puzzle for children to teach them about the Syrian architectural legacy, and the target was mainly children in the camps,” wrote Amr. “During the siege of Aleppo, most of our projects inside Syria have stopped but we are trying to rearrange ourselves and start again” he added.
Now they are selling the puzzle games through their website as they don’t yet have a headquarters in Turkey, the puzzle is a cooperation with the Syrian Association for Preservation of Archaeology and heritage and it is a start to a series of games the team is willing to produce in order to keep the children connected to their heritage and history.
“We depended on photos from our partner Syrian Association for Preservation of Archaeology and Heritage to print those puzzles and there are Syrian factories inside Turkey that are specialised in printing this stuff,” wrote Amr.
Amr explained that the puzzle project is now directed to the Syrian children but they are willing to expand it to include anyone interested in the Arabic and Islamic architectural heritage.
“We have plans for expanding our work whether inside Syria or here in Turkey but there is definitely obstacles like the lack of experience and fund,” Says Amr.