This afternoon is devoted to the topic of rebuilding Syrian cities, organised by Het Grote Midden Oosten Platform and Het Nieuwe Instituut. Taking place on 10 September 2016, the event will feature Maarten Hajer as moderator and Michelle Provoost (Crimson Architectural Historians and International New Town Institute) and Syrian architect Bengin Dawod as speakers, plus a number of Syrian cultural experts. The space will be filled with the sounds, images and flavours of Aleppo.

15:00 – 19:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam



Among the topics under discussion will be the possibility of applying the lessons learned from the post-war reconstruction of Rotterdam to Aleppo, and the question of what is needed to ensure a properly functioning civic environment in the years to come. The event will stress that rebuilding a destroyed city isn’t just about material restoration and reconstruction. It also asks for the appreciation of a more abstract invisible component, the ‘soul’ of the city. The question of how to identify, safeguard and reconstruct this civic soul, which can be so hard for non-citizens to grasp, will be at the heart of the afternoon’s exchanges.

To approximate the soul of the Syrian city, the space will be filled with the sounds, images and flavours of Aleppo. Participants will enjoy an audio walk through pre-war Aleppo, an exploration of the the secrets of Arabic music with Amer Shanati and Esseline van de Sande, and the tastes of centuries-old Syrian recipes prepared by Maher al Sabbagh.

Experts from Syria and elsewhere will explore strategies of rebuilding that can recapture a city’s intangible qualities. How can we mobilise the design community to ensure that reconstruction also means rebuilding the civic soul? What are the illusive qualities that contribute to forming this soul, and how can architects and planners handle these sensitively following wholescale destruction.

The session will be concluded with drinks and Syrian food.

Het Grote Midden Oosten Platform

Het Grote Midden Oosten Platform aims to nuance and humanise the image of the Middle East through objectivity and expertise. Our relationships with the Middle East should be determined by knowledge, understanding and humanity, not by fear and stereotypes. The Platform combines the forces of the Netherlands’ rich pool of Middle East experts.