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The use of explosive weapons in urban areas can have devastating consequences, turning entire neighbourhoods into rubble, destroying the familiar and reshaping the urban, social and cultural fabric of cities.Exploring the emerging relations between the urban past and present as citizens struggle to survive, to sustain lives and to envision a future. In Homs, Syria’s third city, despite the mass destruction and displacement, local architects, urbanists and residents are showing incredible levels of resilience; rehabilitating their partially damaged homes and providing shelter to the internally displaced population.Memories of the pre-war Homs, and the surviving parts of the city, have become imagined and material places of refuge for many Homsis in the work of remembering, reflecting and seeking to reconstruct a vanished past—but also might be used to rethink the city, and to imagine its future.
Ammar Azzouz is an architect at Ove Arup & Partners International Ltd, London. He studied architecture in Homs, Syria, and completed his PhD in architecture at the University of Bath, UK. Current research focuses on local and international responses to destruction and displacement in Syria and the politics of reconstruction. His recent article ‘A tale of a Syrian city at war: Destruction, resilience and memory in Homs’, was published at CITY in 2019.
Anna de Courcy Wheeler is an Advisor for Article 36, a UK-based not-for-profit organisation working to prevent the unintended, unnecessary or unacceptable harm caused by certain weapons, and member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW). Anna’s previously worked on conflict prevention at the International Crisis Group, the Freedom Fund, Columbia’s School of International Political Affairs and NYU’s Law School. She began her career in Rwanda, investigating and documenting crimes committed during the 1994 genocide, and working on post-genocide access to justice.
Caption: Destruction in Homs, SyriaCredit: © private