“In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices.”
– The Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article IV-34 (Eurostat, 2015, Housing Statistics)
The civil war in the Syrian Arab Republic has, according to UNHCR reports, forced more than 4,600,000 people to leave the country and to flea to places as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Europe. According to data provided by UNHCR, in June 2016, 1 out of 113 people in the world was an asylum seeker, an internally displaced person or a refugee.
In February 2016 the war in Syria had a death toll of about 470.00 and could count for the escape of more than 4,600,000 refugees, and the displacement of 6,600,000 inside the Syrian territoryas well as leaving most cities in a situation of total devastation.
According to data provided by the United Nations, by the end of 2015, 65.3 million people were displaced worldwide,
“Refugees are people whose normal existence has been wrenched from them… Armed conflict, discrimination, and massive human rights violations have left millions of people homeless. They have not fled by choice and many of them want to go home as soon as it’s safe.” (Bill Frelick. Director, Refugee Rights Program)
Until recently, the house, was understood as a place for a lifetime; an ideal space, made as a mold for a family that today no longer exists, and that perhaps never existed.
The manifest house or model of life has marked not only the way in which the sphere of the private is developed but also defines the relations of the human being with the territory and with the society. Attention put to uncatalogable inhabitants, as we all turn out to be.
Co-development is a proposal that seeks to integrate the processes of immigration and development. The aim is for both countries to benefit from migratory flows in a form of consensual relationship so that the arrival of the immigrants to the hosting country does not translate into a loss for the country of origin.
The idea of generating an emerging housing prototype for displaced people, as a result of war and natural disasters, arises from the need for a low cost, quick and easy construction shelter response, a transportation facility that is versatile, protects from outdoor weather conditions and that grants the basic conditions of life for a healthy physical and psychological development.
Due to Aleppo’s architectural and cultural wealth, the project is situated in the citys’ old district of Al-Jdayde, declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 and capital of Islamic culture in 2006. Due to intense bombing in the last years of the civil war, many buildings, including housing, mosques and churches have been ruined or seriously damaged.
As a result of the bombings, and fearing the collpase of damaged buildings, the old neighborhood is currently uninhabited. The proposal aims to gradually restore the center of the city as to revisit traditional housing with local materials and elements of Syrian culture. It seeks to establish a relationship between the past and the future whilst bridging between the traditional typology, urban layout and new evolutionary movements in the cities. Once it is safe for the citixens to return to their lives and the city, a tissue is created that connects the old with the new.
The arrangement of the temporary housing module suggests to no confine one structure to the other, but rather always leaves circulation space for a pedestrian route which simultaenously serves for both ventilation and solar lighting. This prototype is constructed from modules of universal measures allowing, if necessary, the housing to grow or be reduced depending on the needs of the families.
Each already built module hosts two spaces for ‘rest’ or a common area, a complete bathroom area, and a small kitchenette for the preparation of food.
A modulable cover allows for changes in height facilitating the cicrulation of air thus regulating ventilation. In addition to a central chimney that works for the storage of water, the structure has certain filters and a bottleneck form so that the hot humid air from the outside can condense and generate small amounts of water.
A proposal to generate urban gardens, which can provide food and some basic products for consumption in the first instance, and second, generate a community activity, where everyone can collaborate and contribute to the benefits of the garden. As is the case in some refugee camps, when you know and support one another, you can strengthen neighborhood ties.
Who influences you graphically?
I am constantly inspired by different forms of art, and in particular paintings by Magritte, Pieter Brueghel, Edward Hopper and Maria Filopoulou. Even modern visual artists such as Witchoria, Katy Ann Gilmore, Paulina Ołowska photography and Jean-Luc Godard films.
The idea of representing an architectural project as if it were a painting fascinates me, in a way it gives a kind of soul to the images, something that inspires the future space in physical form. In addition to the geometric proportions and the symmetry that generates a certain state of comfort and harmony to the visual representations.
I also find inspiration in other architectural studios and artists such as MAIO, fala atelier, SUPERSTUDIO, Kyriakos Miltiadous and everything with an important message and strong visual representation.
What defined the circular format?
I wanted to reduce the attention to a single point within the image rather than using the traditional rectangle that opens many focal points allowing one to get lost in some occasions.
I was also interested in exploring the notion of symmetry both within the project and within its representation. The intention was to create an unreal, almost axonometric view of sections and façades maintinaing however a realistic level of materiality without losing the intention of the circular format.
What is your take on the architectural silhouette? What dictated the use of images from Magritte amongst others? How does the silhouette effect our reading of the architectural space?
The decision to use silhouettes at different scales and formats (both photographs and paintings) was to project an atmosphere where anyone, regardless of their culture, felt part of the place. I wanted to simulate the movement of the urban space and reveal the daily activities of the community.
The choice to use some images of Magritte, Anna Karina, Godard and even some friends, besides being inspiring, was for the passive and static effect that the images transmit. In the end it is a “static” whole that leads to imminent action. The idea as a whole was to simulate a painting, with certain qualities of oil painting in the background, the representation of the subsoil, the angle of the image to make the piece somewhat surreal but without losing the main objective of showing all the parts of housing.
What were the main points you want to convey through the specific views?
At the end of the project the concern is to share it, for it to be readable to everyone, for the images to be understood in the most explicit way, and adaptable to as many situations as possible.
An effort is made to show the project in its entirety; views, sections and isometrics of the house, allowing for the reading of materials, structure and uses of the space as well as the project in relation to site, to understand how it works with the settled set and the landscape of Aleppo.
It is intended that at some point, with all the graphic and technical material the project can be executed with little specialized supervision, somehow an autonomous construction controlled by the inhabitants themselves.
What is your take on colour? What is the effect and purpose of the black and white?
The color palette was mainly influenced by the materiality of the project; woods, concrete, fabrics and reused materials like rubble, were essentially used. While for the backgrounds I chose more opaque and murky colors, always referring to oil painting, and to the corresponding colors of the cool steppe climate of the Syrian territory.
The use of black and white silhouettes was dictated by the need to: first avoid the contrast of images with different colors, and secondly to draw attention to them, Where the view focuses on a single color palette and one image, the black and white figures go into the “background” that are discovered progressively when the entire image is panned.
In the final presentation, a grayscale image is used, highlighting the project in a yellow color, in order to show the most important points of the theoretical, territorial analysis of the neighborhood and the morphology of the housing.
Omar Hazael, graduated in Architecture at Universidad Iberoamericana León, México.
He believes that architects have a great responsibility with all the social conflicts that are happening around the world. From theoretical proposals and small-scale projects we can intervene in situations that improve people’s quality of life, generate a political dialogue, or simply contribute to a need. Since his studies he has been interested in how to approach the architectural work with a social benefit, or that can improve in a certain way our quality of life. Related to art, and more than anything with the psychological effects that through our senses can capture in each space, whether open or closed, natural or artifiaical.
Omar has always enjoyed experimenting with new forms of architectural representation as well. Especially in the visualisation, looking for a more artistic than a technical image of the project. He believes that the new ways of representing architecture nowadays are a strong instrument for the projects to be of interest to different audiences.
Now, he aspires to be able to do a master’s degree in environmental psychology, to be able to delve deeper into social issues linked to architecture, and to continue research with the aim of generating more positive proposals for society. Devoting himself passionately to architecture and the arts, doing research, restoration, photography and poetry.