The Symposium aims to address a gap in architectural history studies in the modern MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. From the 20th century onward, Euro-American educational institutions have played a pivotal role in shaping the architectural landscape of the MENA region; in essence, as students from the region pursue their studies in these institutions, they assimilate the architectural methods, culture, and values, along with the concept of modernity as defined by these schools. Upon their return to their home countries, these students’ knowledge of architecture and their interpretation of Modern architecture, acquired through their studies, has led to the contemporary transformation of architectural landscapes in the region, albeit within different contexts and layouts compared to those established in European countries.
The Architectural Association School of Architecture is a prime example of such an institution, having trained architects from the MENA region for over a century. To succeed in the global context of architecture, it is crucial for these students to have a critical understanding of the contemporary architecture history in their region. However, the available resources tend to be Euro-American-centric, highlighting individual Western architects and their imposing iconic ‘capitalist’ architecture. These viewpoints have been recognised as flawed, and architectural scholarship has challenged the accepted canon based on recent theories such as postcolonial, feminist, etc.
Despite this, there is still a dire need to rethink modern architectural history, specifically in the MENA region; however, the region’s current political and social conflicts have resulted in a significant gap in the study of this area. Although this event may not provide a comprehensive analysis, it can still serve as a valuable starting point for exploring related topics and potentially inspiring future events.
The symposium is a one-day event with three sessions:
Historical Perspective: Examining how Euro-American educational institutions shaped the architectural canon in the MENA region.
Students’ Perspective: Discussing the challenges and opportunities that architects face when returning to the region after studying abroad and how their experiences abroad shape their approaches to architecture in their home countries.
Teachers’ Perspective: Examining the pedagogical methods employed in Euro-American institutions and their impact on the perspectives and approaches of architects in the Middle East and North Africa.
A full schedule and speaker list will be announced soon.