Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean: Lessons from ancient Damascus and Aleppo

Friday 9 June 2023 - 15:00 to 17:00
The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ


Damascus or Aleppo - which is the world's oldest continuously occupied city? 


Urban Design Group in Collaboration with Syrian British Society of the Built Environment (SBSBE) and Silk Cities

The cities of Aleppo and Damascus are among the world's oldest. Their earliest urban origins date back 6,000 years. The Amorite, Hittite, Phoenician, Greek, Macedonian, Roman, Sasanian, Islamic, Ottoman, French, and lastly 21st century corporate worldwide have all seen their civilizations flourish and collapse, each leaving its imprint or effect. As one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities, Damascus is seen as a prominent cultural centre of the Arab world. Meanwhile, due to its geographic location, Aleppo evolved throughout the ancient age into a key international commerce hub. These effects can be seen in the organisation, configuration and shape of Aleppo and Damascus morphology. The historical significance of Aleppo and Damascus will be investigated in this special event by tracking their consistent presence up until the Syrian crisis reached both cities in 2011. The characteristics that have influenced Aleppo's and Damascus' architecture, morphology, and urban planning, as well as how they function and operate today, are another topic covered in the seminar. This event will welcome Dr. Mahmoud ZinAlabadin, lecturer at the Yilidiz Technical University- Faculty of Architecture, and Dr. Husam AlWaer, Reader in Architecture and Urbanism at University of Dundee and member of the executive committee at Urban Design Group. We will be informed of their most current studies on the historical significance  of Aleppo and Damascus as well as their critical contributions to the revival of the socio-cultural and economic vibrancy of the cities. 

About the Speakers:

The Origins and Evolution of Historical Damascus and Aleppo
Dr Husam AlWaer
, University of Dundee, School of Art and Design
Dr AlWaer is an urbanist, with a background in architecture, urban planning and sustainability. He is currently Reader in Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Dundee and has worked with various UK and International governmental and corporate agencies on research, training and engagement projects. His interests include the past and future of sustainable places, towns and cities, and in particular the development of new approaches to sustainable urbanism. Husam is an award-winning author with published work on a wide range of subjects from architecture, urbanism, sustainability, and healthy neighbourhoods to the specifics of placemaking facilitation and performance evaluation. He brings insight to research, teaching, community stakeholder engagement and professional practice at the intersection between historical, theoretical, and contemporary policy and practice. He is a member of the Urban Design Group Executive, and honorary chief editor of the Urban Design and Planning journal.

The Architecture of Aleppo City: From destruction to reconstruction

Dr. Mahmoud Zin Alabadin is lecturer at the Yilidiz Technical University faculty of architecture in Turkey and Visiting scholar at The University of St Andrews– School of Classics, Scotland, United Kingdom. He is interested in the İslamic and The Ottoman Architecture in Middle east. He worked on a several preservation and restoration projects of historical buildings in Syria. He researched on reconstruction plans of Aleppo City and as a consultant in Culture Heritage at İnternational Concil on Monuntes and Sites (ICOMOS). He wrote several architectural books like: "City of Aleppo and its Traditional Houses". He received a number of awards like Sheikh Zayed Award from Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Hheritage, Award of The Organization of Islamic Cities and Capitals Award of Arab Towns Organization and The FONDAZIONE SANTAGATA AWARD: SPECIAL MENTION for Project: "Aleppo – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow", İtaly. 


Syrian British Society of the Built Environment - website

Silk Cities - website