ORGANIZERS: Hiba Alkhalaf & Giovanni Fontana Antonelli


Conflict has a tangible and intangible impact on the integrity, authenticity, and management of heritage places. It also affects the society and brings social, cultural, and political changes. The process of managing and conserving heritage places follows an international system as well as local. Crucial to this process is unpacking the complex values of heritage places especially in post-conflict situations that requires meaningful community and various stakeholders’ participation to inform the process of decision-making. The challenge, however, is who define these values in a way that maintains the cultural diversity, especially in a contested place. Who to involve? At what stage? What are the challenges that hinders an effective communication (i.e., policies and legislations, the use of vague vocabulary, shortage of human resources, not fit international approaches…etc)?

This session aims at unveiling the concealed nature of the relation between heritage experts and local communities. We often witness the inability of the representatives of the experts to communicate with the representatives of the community, resulting in an awkward situation of incommunicability. In conflict and post-conflict contexts, this inability is exacerbated by hardship conditions which the people affected by the conflict have to endure. This seminar gives voice to representatives of both ‘categories who will have the opportunity to exchange their views and explore what could be done to overcome challenges (i.e., capacity building training, new legislations to empower local community……etc). We will be hearing from various experiences related to the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction in the Ancient City of Aleppo and Syria. 

Invited Speakers

Dr Ali Ismail – CEO of Aga Khan Cultural Services in Syria.
Dr. Esmaiel started his work about two decades ago in the institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network in Syria in being a bridge between the local development ambition and the global applied reality. He is one of the team who instigated many initiatives and programs for social and cultural development, especially in the field of preserving the old city in Damascus and Aleppo, most notably the project for capacity building and world-class training for distinguished architecture students in Damascus and Aleppo. He was among the team who received many local and international awards, including the Chevening Award.

Thierry Grandin – Architect Aleppo, Syria.
Architect DPLG, affiliated to the Order of Architects of Île-de-France, member of ICOMOS, and consultant for restoration projects for AKTC from 1999 and WMF from 2010. He also participates in studies with the Stunde-Null Project initiate by the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, as well as consultant for ICCROM. His office was established from 1988 until the events of 2012 in Aleppo.

Abir ARKAWI – Professor at the Faculty of Architecture – Damascus University
Abir is an active architect teaching at the Faculty of Architecture at Damascus University, Syria and working for Municipality Administration Modernisation (MAM), Damascus. She is also an expert to UNDP /PRC (Regional Planning Commission Syria) management natural and cultural sites Syria 2011.

Alhakam Shaar – Research Fellow – Central European University 
AlHakam is the Holbrooke Fellow for The Aleppo Project at the Shattuck Centre on Conflict, Negotiations, and Recovery at Central European University in Budapest. Since he joined the Aleppo Project in January 2015, he has collaborated with Aleppians of all walks of life, including urban planners, cultural heritage experts and civil society actors, and worked closely with graduate students of public policy researching problems that are most likely to face post-war Aleppo.

Luna Rajab, Architect and Cultural Heritage Expert.
Luna is currently a partner and executive manager of ACE, an architectural and engineering company that was founded by her father Louay Rajab (1969). Her influence is mostly noticeable in her passion for civic engagement and her contribution to fundamental issues that can have a real impact on the community. She led, coordinated, and executed numerous architectural & cultural heritage works for private and public sectors and for UNESCO, UN-ESCWA, JIZ, DGAM, ADA, MWNF, IUAV, IFPO and others, Member of ICOMOS.


INTRODUCTION by the ‘Heritage in Conflict’ team Moderators
Giovanni Fontana Antonelli – Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Archi.Media Trust
Hiba Alkhalaf – Research Associate at King’s College London
Mizuko Ugo, Gakushuin Women’s College (Japan)
Claudio Cimino, WATCH

Francesco Bandarin – Member of Advisory Committee of Our World Heritage / Former director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (2000-2010) and Assistant director-general of UNESCO for Culture (2010-2018)

11:20-11:35 Thierry Grandin, Architect Aleppo, Syria
11:35-11:50 Professor Abir ARKAWI, Professor at the Faculty of Architecture – Damascus University
11:50-12:05 Alhakam Shaar, Research Fellow – Central European University
12:05-12:20 Luna Rajab, Architect and Cultural Heritage Expert

12:20-12:50 Q&A, All speakers & Dr Ali Ismail, CEO of Aga Khan Cultural Services in Syria

12:50-13:00 Concluding Remarks

Photo credit: Salah Maraashi