Submitted by WA Contents

UN Habitat Mass Housing Revitalization Competition Results

United Kingdom Architecture News - Apr 7, 2014 - 15:02   5300 views

Marwa Al-Sabouni and Khaled Komee are in the first place in the National Results of UN Habitat Mass Housing Revitalization Competition


The crisis in Syria had its toll on all of the Syrians however; its effects on the residential life are unbelievable. Baba Amr one of the first areas that ignited the conflict suffered severely. Baba Amr is a locality at the west side of Homs. This area is located out of organizational plan of the city; it is common land.


Team Members:Marwa Al-Sabouni,Khaled Komee


Today Baba Amr is a restricted area is entry is not allowed except for the few individuals who decided to return to their homes after the cease of fire despite the absolute lack of simplest living conditions.

The land of Baba Amr was owned to owner in Feudal terms then the government issued the Expropriation Act and took the ownership of the land and called the land princely land, which was empty with no intention to build projects on. People from Baba Amr who are basically are rural people immigrated from near villages to work at the petrol refinement and the Composting factory in the city of Homs. This allowed them, by one-year salary, to be able to purchase one piece of the cheap land of Baba Amr to build a home. They took advantage of a Legal loophole in the Expropriation Act, which allowed them to own the land they buy from the feudal owner and build on it. This way, by law, they could become partners with the government in the land; so they have equal shares of the land to the area they are staying on. This left the area with following circumstances:

1- social/informal housing.

2- Poor services: bad condition streets-weak power network. 

3- Low real estate value.

With no attention from the government or any future promises of developing.

This means that there are no institutions and organizations involved in the housing locality of Baba Amr. However, the government owns shares in the area and the residences also have shares but they don’t completely own their estates.

All this posed many challenges in front of any proposal for reconstruction for instance, the armed conflict created a huge social crack in the Syrian society; In Baba Amr many families witnessed with their children horrible crimes this will create a challenge to any future in the area a huge responsibility is to provide a constructive environment through architecture. Another challenge may rise from the existence of two conflicted parties one may be in the decision side and the other on the receiving side, with the position of Baba Amr in the conflict as a main area for uprising and proceeded battles; it has witnessed the first and most uprising followed by major armed conflicts. In other words, Baba Amr is either a place of “celebration” or “revenge” for the two parties that the society has divided into; the design mission was to deal with such a challenge, and overcome it. Having in mind the economic status_ post-crisis in Syria would be unpredictable this may include many economical and financing issues. In general, Syria has hot summers and cold winters: Microclimate includes strong winds in the winter from the west side.

In order to re-involve the area in the society and because of the risk of introversion of the community in Baba Amr: After the crisis, conscious steps should be taken to reintegrate the area and give the citizens an affective role in their environment, community, and city. No to forget Housing management and maintenance that has always been a major challenge. An over look to the streets of Syria would show that the concept of maintenance of building is absence. Therefore, the proposal would have to come up with an innovative solution and form a precedent in the society so it can be implemented nationally. More importantly, the governmental future plans for the area are serious challenge; the moves that are being taken at the moment suggest very different schemes depending on mass housing strategy which will build residential blocks and towers with no deep understanding to the requirements of the community, which can seriously lead to a ghost town.

Baba Amr is a very sensitive area socially for those who took the side of “against the regime” it represents the birthplace of the “revolution” and for those who are “with the regime” it represents a source of “trouble”. Either way the design could present an example of leading architecture which could integrate the citizens instead of exclusion or punishment or as the future governmental plans of “rearranging the area” and this could mean forcing solutions that could lead to more introversion if neglected the “nature” of the community and way of life.

90% of the area is destructed: so the implementation of the design has more chance than to stay on paper as an idea.

Baba Amr has a unique historical place called “Alhakora“which was previously an open park that a social religious celebration used to be held in. This celebration is called “The elders Thursday” or “Alhalawa’s Thursday” (Alhalawa is a kind of popular sweet”. people would come from all over the city even the country to witness this celebration with includes horse riding, popular dancing, and of course “Alhalawa”.

The government took the action of expropriation the location and called off the celebration through building 3 residential blocks of public housing in cooperation with the teacher’s cooperative association, then invited people from outside the area to live in. that created a sharp grouping; as the people of Baba Amr and the small brought community introverted and never dealt with each other. This is one example of the consequences of the “forcing” that the proposal would try to avoid through innovative concepts.

All this had be taken in consideration before any design move; the proposal came up with an urban- architectural concept_ the tree concept which included urban+ architectural implied growth ability, enhanced the public space, saved the closed social ties, maintained the lifestyle, and created eco-friendly environment and productive units agriculturally, economically, and socially. Moreover, the tree concept created aesthetically rich configurations that generates vibrant images with the urban movement and be microclimate sensitive and productive at the same time.

 Please click to see the posters



UN-Habitat is promoting a new urban planning paradigm that calls for planning in advance at the scale of expected development of cities with a better integration of urban uses - housing, business, retail, recreation, education, agricultural, social and cultural activities, amongst others, in an environmentally sustainable manner. The aim of this paradigm shift is to achieve adequate urban densities to minimize the impact of urban sprawl, improve mobility and reduce greenhouse emissions and pollution through decreased motorized traffic, increased social interaction, and boosted local economic development. The ultimate goal is to attain the social, economic, environmental and cultural sustainability of cities.


Please click here to see the National Results

> via


1-The mosque: this large area can accommodate the number of men who prays the Friday prayer from the locality and the neighboring ones, also the prayers of religious celebrations for the whole residences (families) also the design gives the mosque it's old function back in educating  and enlightening (calligraphy, 

2-The public library:Taking advantage from the resulting height under the mosque, lighting can come natural from the design of crystal ball above attached to the mosque volume also from the north side where the natural hole of "Alhakoora" is existed providing natural day light and scenery. The library in this locality is vital also because of the existence of near university.

3-The underground parking: provides protection, additional space, minimizes traffic, conceals unwanted scene of large numbers of cars..

4-The conservatory:will invite visitors to walk by and enjoy plants exhibitions, which the residences can participate in and have entertaining activities.

The public park as a breather for the whole neighborhood.

5-The food carriages space and "Alhakora": provides cultural entertaining center to have simple yet exciting experiments that are new with each occasion also provide a wide range of jobs with the verity of shows that can be done in this place: (a circus, horse riding show, skating and free cycling,…).