Quick access:

Go directly to content (Alt 1) Go directly to first-level navigation (Alt 2)

Symposium Designing Modernity: Architecture in the Arab World 1945-1973.

Symposium Designing Modernity: Architecture in the Arab World 1945-1973.
©Goethe-Institut Ramallah

As a part of the symposium Designing Modernity: Architecture of the Arab World 1945-1973 (Goethe-Institut Ramallah), co-founders of the Bricklab studio, Abdulrahman and. Turki Gazzaz participate in the panel discussion “Knowledge Production for modern heritage - Research” and present the project “Saudi Modern: Jeddah between 1938-1963”. Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz will be joined on the panel by Mercedes Volait (France), Amin Alsaden (Iraq), Mazen Haidar (Lebanon) und Susanne Bosch (Germany).

Date: 6th of May 2022
Time: 16:30-18:30 Berlin time

The symposium accompanies the release of the book Designing Modernity: Architecture in the Arab World 1945–1973 that explores modern buildings in Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. In ten case studies, the authors examine historical, sociopolitical, climatic and demographic aspects of a little-explored field of Arab cultural and architectural history. During a two-day symposium editors Philipp Oswalt and George Arbid will join the authors to discuss forms, networks and constellations of transculturality, the preservation and renewal of modern cultural heritage and other topics. During the evening program, the editors will present the book and discuss it together with architectural experts Tom Avermaete, Khaldun Bshara and the participants.

Saudi Modern is a multidisciplinary initiative founded by Jeddah-based architecture and design studio Bricklab that aims to analyze and interpret modernization through the history of the nation's urban and architectural development. As we are witnessing a period of reform in anticipation of the coveted 2030 milestone, a critical inquiry into the nation's civic, social, and economic development from its early years of modernization is instrumental. In the eight decades following the discovery of oil, human settlements across the kingdom have changed dramatically. Over merely three generations, Saudi society has trodden hastily towards modernity and witnessed a wholesale overhaul of traditional notions of civic/rural development. As their homes transitioned from mud, bricks, and stone to reinforced concrete; so has our society, its constituent communities, and respective shared values.

This project aims to unfold the narrative of modern development since the former decades of the 20th century by focusing on architecture and urbanism across the different cities, towns, and villages in the Kingdom. By studying these early interactions with modern technologies and development models, we may better understand the ideological repercussions of modernity. In doing so, we may critically assess our contemporary attitudes towards tradition and its role in reshaping our collective values.

Register for the symposium Designing Modernity: Architecture in the Arab World 1945-1973:
Click Here!


Turki & Abdulrahman Gazzaz (Bricklab)

Bricklab is an award-winning, Jeddah-based architecture studio co-founded by brothers Abdulrahman & Turki Gazzaz. Their practice probes the boundaries between art, material research, and built environments, merging technical mastery with conceptual rigor and interdisciplinary design. Inviting reflection upon dynamic elements that often go unnoticed, they explore the “gaps between graphics, product design, interiors, and architecture” through innovative investigations of site, object, and user— the component parts of our social and physical worlds. Bricklab creates architecture for cultural uses, visionary master plans, public space interventions, exhibition scenography, and artistic installations in response to the socio-political and economic contexts of their commissions.

Mercedes Volait

Mercedes Volait holds a PhD from Aix-Marseille University (1993) and is Research Professor at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris. She has published extensively on architecture and heritage in Modern Egypt. Her current research focuses on intercultural engagements with architecture, photography and craft in nineteenth-century Cairo.

Amin Alsaden

Amin Alsaden is a curator, educator, and scholar of art and architectural history, whose work focuses on transnational solidarities and exchanges across cultural boundaries. His research explores modern and contemporary art and architecture globally, with specific expertise in the Arab and Muslim worlds. His doctoral dissertation, which he is turning into a book, investigated a crucible moment in post-WWII Baghdad, Iraq, when the city became a locus of unprecedented encounters, transforming art and architecture globally all the while engendering unique local movements. He holds graduate degrees from Harvard and Princeton, and has lectured and published internationally.

Mazen Haidar

Mazen Haïdar holds an MPhil in Architectural Conservation from La Sapienza in Rome and a PhD in Architecture from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. As a practicing architect, he has led and participated in several conservation and adaptation projects of modernist buildings in Lebanon. He has taught since 2011 at various Lebanese and French academic institutions, including the American University of Beirut, ENSA-Paris Belleville and ENSA-Paris Malaquais. His publications focus on XXth century architectural heritage and the notion of memory in the conservation of residential buildings.

Susanne Bosch

Susanne Bosch is an artist, educator and independent artistic researcher. She received a PhD “Learning for Civil Society Through Participatory Public Art” from the University of Ulster in Belfast in 2012. As an interface artivist, Susanne works on long-term questions that deal with concepts and ideas of solidarity, democracy and commoning in regards to sustainable futures. She works and exhibits internationally. www.susannebosch.de