The Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo seminar was taught in the spring of 2016 at Columbia University. Students worked collaboratively to develop a series of case studies using a map developed by the Center for Spatial Research, specifically designed to research urban damage in Aleppo during the ongoing civil war. Their work incorporates a range of disciplines, methods and results. Each student was asked to create case studies and add layers to the existing map. The results — spatializing youtube video, interior borders between fighting factions, imagining urban survival during wartime, imaging escape routes, audio memory maps, roads, water, hospitals, informal neighborhoods, religion, communications infrastructure, and refugee camps at the borders — are collected below.

SPATIALIZING SYRIA'S
YOUTUBE WAR

This project is an investigation of the YouTube war, investigating the platform as a means to better understand the physical destruction and humanitarian crisis in the city. While Western based non-profit organizations note barrel bomb destruction that can be viewed from satellite imagery, the footage accessible online provides an opportunity to understand the conflict with a greater depth of realism. This project is a mapping of the spatial relevance and political meaning of the ‘YouTube War’

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

ALEPPO
MEMORY MAP

Every city is, among other things, a rich repository of stories. The Aleppo Memory Map attempts to capture some of Aleppo's stories, allowing listeners to explore what the city means to those who know it best. Click on a marker, and a short audio file pops up: a memory of summers spent playing with cousins, or of poetry readings at a neighborhood church. The map contains no images, attempting instead to paint a verbal portrait of the city as seen through the eyes of its citizens. In doing so, it aims to capture some of the pride and affection that Aleppans feel for their city.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

THE CURRENT STATE
OF ALEPPO'S ROADS

Prior to the conflict, Syria’s road network was highly trafficked but poorly maintained and unsafe due to poor construction, operation, and maintenance. Heavy loads from freight trucks and weathering over time caused numerous cracks and potholes throughout Syria’s road network. In addition to these variables, poor initial construction and poor maintenance of Syrian roads has led to numerous fatalities and accidents throughout the country according to local news reports from 2006.1

In this study, I obtained background transportation research from the University of Damascus in order to study the road network of Syria. I then conducted a spatial analysis of current damage in Aleppo using data from the United Nations- UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT).

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

CHRISTIANS OF
ALEPPO

On a sunny evening in April, during Orthodox Holy Week, about 75 people gathered at W83, a New York City community center and event space owned by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, for traditional Syrian orthodox chants in honor of orthodox holy week. This example of a Syrian Orthodox musical performance represents the attempts of an ancient religious community to maintain their religious practice and cultural heritage in the face of violence against Christians in Syria.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

CREATION OF BORDERS
IN WARTIME ALEPPO

Historically, Aleppo is a city that has been defined and redefined by its borders. The Romans, early Muslims, Abuyyids, Ottomans, French, post-independence regimes, and others have all destroyed, adapted, and expanded the borders of the previous period.

Allowing that the war might be one more step in this continuous redrawing of boundaries, I studied satellite imagery of the frontlines and identified three emerging categories of new, wartime borders. In the next sections I will examine a case study of each of the following:

Go To Project


describe your image

REFUGEE CAMPS AS
REPLACEMENT URBANISM

The camp has become the new reality, and the new urbanity, for those fleeing Aleppo. Hastily constructed but inhabited for years, the refugee camp is its own type of city, carceral but also safe, secure but also hopeless. This case study looks at several of the camps on the Syria-Turkey border on the route from Aleppo to Turkey and beyond, examining them as the type of urbanism that stems from conflict.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

WATER AS A
WAR WEAPON

The Syrian civil war has leveled cities, uprooted thousands of families, and forced a refugee crisis of a scale not witnessed since the Second World War. Of the many inhuman brutalities inflicted upon the residents of Syria, barrel bombs dropped by regime forces, torture at the hands of ISIS militants, the blockading of food and medical supplies, and the intentional targeting of non-combatants, the weaponization of the water infrastructure represents a uniquely viscous attack against civilians. Residents throughout the divided city of Aleppo describe finding safe water as a constant struggle.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

COMMUNICATIONS
INFRASTRUCTURE

The camp has become the new reality, and the new urbanity, for those fleeing Aleppo. Hastily constructed but inhabited for years, the refugee camp is its own type of city, carceral but also safe, secure but also hopeless. This case study looks at several of the camps on the Syria-Turkey border on the route from Aleppo to Turkey and beyond, examining them as the type of urbanism that stems from conflict.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

PLAYGROUNDS OF
WAR

Like a single picture composed of stitched images, this urban section couples distinct viewports to render a cohesive depiction of the conflict at its most consequential scale, simultaneously mitigating the sensory chaos of first-person footage and the abstraction of satellite imagery. Looking west, the drawing reveals the southeastern part of the Citadel (the urban theater right in the center of the Battle for Aleppo) and it unstable spatial demarcations.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

ALGORYTHMIC
IMAGINARIES OF ESCAPE

As the situation in Syria has shifted over the course of the civil war from government-sponsored violence against civilians protesting in cities like Homs to the current picture of a global refugee crisis now pushing on the borders of Europe, critical attention has drifted along extended avenues of escape and humanitarian resources have organized around the already displaced.

This case study concerns the immediate possibilities of flight from a seemingly depopulated city of Aleppo, now a decisive front of the ongoing conflict.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

INFORMAL
SETTLEMENTS

The camp has become the new reality, and the new urbanity, for those fleeing Aleppo. Hastily constructed but inhabited for years, the refugee camp is its own type of city, carceral but also safe, secure but also hopeless. This case study looks at several of the camps on the Syria-Turkey border on the route from Aleppo to Turkey and beyond, examining them as the type of urbanism that stems from conflict.

GO TO PROJECT


describe your image

MEDICAL FACILITIES
IN ALEPPO

In a civil war marked by base savagery, one of the greatest crimes committed against the Syrian people has been the routine targeting of their medical facilities. Civilians and militants alike have been affected by this blatant disregard for basic human decency. While war crimes against medical professionals and civilians have been committed by both rebel and regime forces, the greater military power of the Syrian government and their Russian allies, has damaged or destroyed much of the medical infrastructure in rebel held Aleppo. This portion of the case study investigates this particular strain of inhumanity.

GO TO PROJECT




Faculty

Name Project role Title email
Laura Kurgan Principal Investigator Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation ljk33@columbia.edu
Madeeha Merchant Project Lead Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation mym2107@columbia.edu
Jamon Van Den Hoek Collaborator Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation vandenhj@oregonstate.edu
Grga Basic Research Associate Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation gb2559@columbia.edu
Mike Howard Research Assistant Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation msh2183@columbia.edu


Students

Name School Program
Aaron Febuary Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Planning
Alexander Cox School of International and Public Affairs Master of Public Adminstration
Alexandra Diaz Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Planning
Amanda Chan Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Design
Anjali Singhvi Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Planning
Ashwini Karanth Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Design
Caitlin Miller Department of Art History and Archeology Doctor for Philosophy Art History
Darcy Alexandra Coulter Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Journalism Master of Arts in Religion/Master of Science in Journalism
Despo Thoma Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture
Gabrielle Printz Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Critical, Curatorial & Conceptual Practices
Gayatri Kawlra Global Thought Master of Arts in Global Thought
Grace Mills Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Design
Hasbrouck Miller Department of Art History and Archeology Doctor of Philosophy in Art History
Jason Danforth Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Architecture
Javier Bidot-Betancourt Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design
Jay Logan Clark Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Planning
Jessica Engebretson Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Doctor of Philosophy in English
Joachim Hackl Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Critical, Curatorial & Conceptual Practices
John Darcey Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Planning
Michael Storm Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Architecture
Nadine Fattaleh Columbia College Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sustainable Development
Nicolas Russell Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Science in Urban Design
Violet Whitney Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Master of Architecture