Submitted by WA Contents

An International Competition to Redesign Housing Quarter for Earthquake Victims in Northern Syria

Syria Architecture News - Mar 26, 2024 - 10:18   6948 views

An International Competition to Redesign Housing Quarter for Earthquake Victims in Northern Syria

In these challenging times, the situation in Syria has highlighted how deeply war and natural disasters can disrupt lives. For thirteen years, the Syrian conflict, combined with the latest earthquake in February 2023, has displaced over 12.5 million people, making it one of the most significant displacements we've seen. Over a decade of devastating conflict has scarred Syria's socio-cultural fabric and severely damaged buildings and infrastructure, leaving millions homeless. Families have lost their homes, sense of safety, and place in the world.

In architecture, the term 'dwelling' transcends the physical realm, embodying a sense of tranquility, safety, and belonging - elements the victims of displacement have lost. Home is more than just four walls and a roof; it is a space that nourishes a sense of identity, community, and security. As such, what is required is more than providing temporary relief or basic shelter for these displaced communities. The necessity is for long-term, sustainable solutions that address the root causes of their situation and work towards their reintegration into the social fabric, enabling them to reclaim their sense of 'dwelling.'

Competition Task

A- Call to entry:

We invite the international architectural community to rise to the challenge of designing innovative, sustainable, and culturally sensitive housing solutions for the earthquake victims of Syria. This competition seeks to address the complex crisis in Azaz by creating a new urban quarter that provides shelter and recreates a sense of home, community, and belonging.

B- Objectives and Goals:

Innovative Solutions: To discover new design solutions beyond temporary relief, working towards long-term reintegration of the displaced into the social fabric.

Cultural Sensitivity: To create designs that reflect the local culture and accommodate the diverse backgrounds of the inhabitants, fostering a sense of identity and community.

Sustainable Practices: To promote sustainable design practices considering energy efficiency, environmental impact, and local and available materials.

Community-Oriented Design: To develop layouts encouraging community interactions, creating safe and engaging public spaces, and fostering a sense of belonging.

Scalability and Replicability: To find scalable design solutions that can be replicated in similar contexts, allowing for potential expansion or adaptation to different scenarios.

C. Response: Specific Tasks and Expectations

Design a Housing Complex: Participants are tasked with designing a housing complex that accommodates 450 families, incorporating cultural, commercial, educational, and public functions.

Balance Social Responsibility and Community Diversity: The design must harmoniously balance social responsibility, community diversity, and vibrant public spaces, curating spaces that spark interactions and nurture a sense of community.

Create Resilient and Adaptable Spaces: The design must be earthquake resilient and adaptable, considering future scenarios, changing community needs, and integrating public and private functions to foster a cohesive community fabric.

Consider Cost Efficiency and Construction Feasibility: The design must be realistic, feasible, and cost-efficient, considering local resources, available skills, and budget constraints.

Design Programme: 

A- Detailed Program: 

Area: 48.300 m² 

Housing Units:

Total: 450 units 

Typology: Apartment blocks.

Height: 3 - 4 stories

Distribution: 4 housing units per floor.

Unit Types: 30% three-room units, 70% two-room units. (Read the Unit's specifications in the limitation part)

Community Facilities:

Public Square (4000 m²): A vibrant community square integrated with the commercial stores and bakery, designed for gatherings and events.

Youth Center (1500 m²): Multi-purpose hall, library, workshop rooms, and separate sports halls (GYM) for women and men. 

Mosque (400 m²): A space for community prayers, accommodating both men and women in separate areas.

School (2500 m²): A primary school spread over two to three floors, featuring 18 classrooms, sports fields for football and basketball, dedicated teacher's rooms, and external restrooms.

Commercial stores and Bakery (700 m²): Integrated with the public square, commercial stores (25m2 per store), and bakery with production facilities.

B- Limitation: 

Building Height:

- Designs should not exceed four stories high, including the ground floor.

 Residential Unit Specifications:

Module 01 (2 rooms)

Size: 65 m².

Configuration: Two rooms with a kitchen and two bathrooms (one must have a shower cabin).

Module 02 (3 rooms)

Size: 75 m².

Configuration: Three rooms with a kitchen and two bathrooms (one must have a shower cabin).

Each floor should accommodate four units.

Architectural Features:

Cantilevers: Cantilevers should not exceed (1.5 m)

Remember, any new construction space increases the building cost

Construction Constraints:

Adherence to the specific construction limitations provided in the supplementary file is mandatory.

5- Competition Site: 

A. Site Description and Significance:

Location: The competition site is strategically located on the main road between Nayarah and Azaz in Northwestern Syria. This region has emerged as a stable hub amid the chaos of the Syrian Conflict, attracting NGOs to implement housing projects for those affected.

Historical Value: The site bears significant historical value as a testament to the resilience of the local community in the face of adversity. Originally agricultural land, it has been repurposed multiple times to meet the community's changing needs, providing shelter to displaced persons and symbolizing the region's ongoing efforts to provide stable, secure housing.

7- Competition Schedule:

A. Timeline: 

March 15, 2024: Competition launch 

April 25, 2024: Deadline for Receiving Questions 

May 2024: Molham Projects seminar 

July 30, 2024: Registration deadline 

July 31, 2024: Submission deadline 

August 2024: Shortlist announcement 

August 2024: Winner announcement 

All Deadlines are 11:59 pm GMT (London).


A.  Eligibility: 

The competition is open to individuals and multidisciplinary teams of up to 8 members, including architects, urban designers, engineers, students, social workers, sociologists, and other design enthusiasts. Collaboration across specialties is encouraged to foster innovative and holistic solutions.

B. Registration: 


Early Registration: $30 until 25/04/2024

Standard Registration: $40 until 25/06/2024

Late Registration: $60 

Students who qualify for the shortlist will receive a refund of their registration fee. 

Architects / Experts / Offices

Early Registration: $50 until 25/04/2024

Standard Registration: $60 until 25/06/2024

Late Registration: $80 

Institutional Registration: $300

This option is open for universities and other institutions interested in sponsoring their students to participate in International competitions and showcase their students’ work globally. 

Awards and Certificates

1st Prize - $2000 + Implementation possibility

2nd Prize - $1500

3rd Prize - $1000

20 Honourable Mentions + Certificate + Published work in publications, our website, social media pages, and exhibitions.


Christoph Wessling: Urban planner, Architect, & Academic, Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU)

Mouaz Abouzaid, Founder & Design Principal, Verform

Islam Mosleh El Mashtooly, Architect, Urbanist, & founder of Design & more

Ouessess Hummos, Architect, Urbanist, & Researcher Mimaria Studio 

Atef Nanoua, Architect, CEO, & Cofounder Molham Volunteering Team

Yaser Biyoush, Senior Civil Engineer & Head of Engineering Department Molham Volunteering Team

Abdulhadi Al Omar, Architect & Head of Architectural Department Molham Volunteering Team

Data Package:

In the following link, you will find Cad files, images, videos, and useful reading documents: Information Package.


For any inquiries regarding the competition brief, please contact us before the deadline: 

Email: [email protected]

Deadline for Queries: 25 April 2024. 

For further information, visit the competition website

Download the competition brief: Architects for Humanity.docx

Top image courtesy of Mimaria Studio.

> via Mimaria Studio

architecture competition