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Echoes of Civilization. Sarah Krzysztyniak's project for Syria

Dobrawa Bies
03 of March '21

Syria's civil war is one of the largest humanitarian crises, and has been going on for a decade. There are many plans to rebuild ruined cities, but most of them involve completely demolishing the existing, destroyed urban fabric and replacing it with a new one. However, these plans do not take into account the local community. This problem is highlighted by the competition "Echo of Civilization. Re-Coding Post-War Syria," and its task was to design a building as a basis for Syria's cultural revival. Of the submitted works, the audience award went to Sara Krzysztyniak.

UNI Competitions ' competition task "Echo of Civilization. Re-Coding Post-War Syria" was to design a space that will form the basis for the cultural revival of Syria and encourage the former residents of Damascus to return to the city. The guidelines to be followed by the participants. were to use materials available in the area and traditional building techniques known to the locals. It was also necessary to take into account that the project should evolve over time.

Budynek w Syrii

The author proposed to expand the ruins of historic houses

© Sara Krzysztyniak

echo of civilization

The project proposed by Sara Krzysztyniak, a student at Warsaw University of Technology, received the audience award.

In a country where people live "in survival mode," the priority is to survive from day to day, and such phrases as "society," "community" or "we" no longer exist. In times of crisis, people face problems such as poverty, high crime rates, lack of education, and drug trafficking, the author says.

The main meeting places and cultural heritage of Zamalca residents were the Old Baths and the Grand Mosque, which were ruined during the war. That's why Sara Krzysztyniak decided to design a facility that would allow people to meet, find loved ones, re-create a community and get involved in rebuilding the town. Children, meanwhile, would gain access to education and proper development.

a reference to tradition

The student's concept is to expand the surviving portions of the building, which was destroyed during the war, and replicate the existing tract using traditional brick made from clay. This would create an inner courtyard and a new building on the opposite side of the street. The idea behind the project includes the possibility of vertical expansion of the buildings, inspired by the tradition of Egyptian residential houses. This tradition involves the first occupants of the house, leaving the ceiling above the top floor unfinished, allowing expansion by future generations.

Ogrody na dachach

On the roofs of the designed buildings are gardens

© Sara Krzysztyniak

gardens on roofs

On the roofs of both buildings, the author designed gardens that use another Syrian construction technique - erecting wooden frames of the upper floors on top of the masonry first floor. Cross-beams are spanned between the main columns, providing structural stability, and the space between them is filled with hand-formed bricks. In this way, a space has been created to grow plants, vegetables and fruits. Thanks to the unique microclimate, it is possible to take shelter from the sun here during the hot summer periods. Over time, if desired, the gardens can be converted into brick rooms.

By combining historical ruins, new construction and wooden frames, the impression of continuous expansion of the building will be achieved. Just as a flower can grow amidst a pile of rubble - green gardens growing out of the masonry walls symbolize new life," explains the architect.

Rzuty budynku
i rozkład funkcji

The rebuilt facility will include a food and beverage area, a room for yoga and meditation, and an exhibition space, among other things

© Sara Krzysztyniak

new life for historic building

The ruined building was probably a residential or service building, serving the surrounding multi-family housing development. It is known to be much older than the surrounding buildings, as evidenced by the use of mud bricks. It was in this building that the student designed the gastronomic area - a small café with a separate space in the outdoor courtyard. There is also a room for yoga, meditation and prayer, accessed by a "corridor of memories" that serves as an exhibition area.

Łaźnia miejska,
basen

A swimming pool will be built in the courtyard

© Sara Krzysztyniak

The courtyard (an outdoor living room with a fountain in the center), which is the most important family and social area of the Syrian house, will be replaced by a swimming pool - a municipal bath. In the neighboring building, Sara Krzysztyniak proposed a dance and exercise space, a children's playroom and a library with a work and study zone, and a reading room located among the greenery on the roof.

Read also about the project for a women's village in Afghanistan, designed by Katarzyna Skibinska.

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