Arab Cities in Evolution


Fall 2012

Amale Andraos, instructor

While the Middle East and the Arab World in general, have for too long occupied the world’s center stage for its endless conflicts, this past decade has simultaneously shed light on it as another kind of ‘hot spot’—one that has fostered radical experimentation in architecture and urbanism. From leading the wave of ‘instant urbanism’ to building the first zero carbon city, the MENA region has also witnessed a resurgence of new social housing and institutional buildings, led major reconstruction and preservation efforts as well as re‐affirmed for the world the importance of public space through its recent democratic revolutions.

While much of the contemporary urban and architectural production in the Arab World continues to be wildly broadcast, too little is presented as a context through which to read this ebullient production, contrasting the region’s emerging and struggling cities while situating the work within a long history of complex exchanges regionally as well as between East and West. Working through specific discursive ‘lenses—focusing in particular on issues of representation, post world war two developmental strategies, Pan Arabism and environmental orientalism—the seminar built a repertoire of references through which to apprehend the present transformations.