Perspectives for Aleppo: Towards an Integrated Approach for ‘Post-Conflict’ Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage

Dr. des. Nura Ibold

This project examines the recovery of cities and cultural heritage property after armed conflicts, focusing on Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Located in northern Syria, Aleppo was considered the country’s economic and cultural centre until 2012 when it was dragged into the ongoing civil war, which continues to devastate the country. The city of Aleppo has been divided by the different fighting groups. The frontline cuts through the urban core, thus putting the ancient Islamic city of Aleppo at the centre of the warfare. This results in massive destruction of the old city’s significant urban structure and cultural heritage.

Since Aleppo’s old city and its heritage properties are heavily damaged, issues surrounding cultural heritage reconstruction and the recovery of an Aleppine identity and collective memory require further research. In this context the project considers the utility of the heritage management tool known as the value-based approach, which provides a framework for the reconstruction of cultural heritage. The project will further analyse the concept and implementation of the value-based approach within urban recovery processes and its potential role in the reconstruction of Aleppo's cultural heritage.

Context of the Dissertation
In the post-conflict situation, the focus of recovery quickly turns to plans centred on concepts of rebuilding and renewing the urban structure. While the main goal of urban reconstruction should be to stabilise the physical structure of an area, the preservation and revitalisation of the historical, architectural, and cultural values of the built past should be a prime concern. These values give an urban society its unique identity. Former cases reveal that historical sites and heritage monuments are often neglected during this process. Therefore, the main research question of the dissertation concerns the implementation of cultural heritage reconstruction in the overall recovery process.

The project does not argue for the return of the old city to its old pre-war condition, but instead attempts to set guidelines that address the reconstruction concepts of restoration, renovation, maintenance, and rehabilitation.

Nura Ibold successfully defended her thesis in May 2020. She is an associated doctoral student at the DFG Research Training Group 1913 "Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings".

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