Inquiring About Signature Architecture Projects in After-crisis Communities - Post-war Syria

Author: Rand Issa, Universidade Lusófona do Porto


Is signature architecture a benign phenomenon? There is not a decisive answer, but arguably, through studying cases, and in this situation, cases in the war crisis communities, the possible answer would be positive regarding its essential role in the publicity aspects since media is their primary site of reading as Foster1 (2008) has argued of Pop architecture. For instance, the “Re-create Ukraine” movement, an open call to the architects, artists, and designers of the world to help reimagine the future of Ukraine after the war is over2. Moreover, as in the case of the mayor of Kharkiv’s invitation to Lord Norman Foster whom presented his manifesto to rebuild Kharkiv, which is postulated to become a blueprint for the reconstruction of other Ukrainian cities3. That could lead to much more than merely rebuilding but to rebuild with the vision of an expert as Charles Jencks refers to as “iconic architects”4. As demonstrated by the example of “Solidere” in Beirut after the civil war, through Rafael Moneo’s Souks project, the importance of politicians and Mayors’ cognition of establishing such projects, which is an over-determined genre, and has deep causes that find support in the economy and society5. Notwithstanding, the “iconic architect” is encouraged to take the risks, and oftentimes, break the rules. Nonetheless, the big clients need a judicious mixture of fame and controversy to keep tabloid journalism interested.

Regarding the Syrian scenario, such research can delve into the possibility of a new heritage regime by inquiring about signature architecture projects in the after-war crisis community. Especially in a time when humanity is facing additional crises i.e. climate change. Consequently, such architecture can contain and fathom the heterotopias’ needs entailing the voluptuous depiction of debutante creations for a new future after the war.

This research alludes to signature architecture as a feasible approach to the post-war communities’ contextualization. Delimiting the crisis disparity by seeking socio-economic crisis risk reduction. The treatise investigates the interlinkage between signature architecture, media, urban reverberations, and heritage. Posing signature architecture as a method to enhance the image of Syrian cities worldwide; to deliver better marketing content instead of war destruction publicity. Furthermore, to create new attraction points, and provide Syrian society with architecture that encourages Syrians to go out of their houses and cherish architecture for peace and belonging. The research aims to demonstrate how the spirit of creativity and experimentation can assist win the war through architects’ synergies to embellish and compensate for the socio-economic gaps generated by the post-2011 crisis in Syria. Diagnosing the hinders of signature architecture projects, defining where and when it takes place- and differentiating it as an output and as a process and how such architecture and in which forms can be beneficial.


1 Foster, H. 2008. “Image Building.” In Architecture Between Spectacle and Use, edited by Anthony Vidler, 164–

179. Williamstown, Massachusetts: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.


3 world, S. (2022). Norman Foster presents his manifesto to rebuild the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine.

4, 5 Jencks, Ch. (2006). The iconic building is here to stay. Routledge, p.8