The Loss of Home: Lessons from Syria on how a sense of place is destroyed

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  •  Thursday, 1 November, 2018
     12:30 - 14:00

As part of Building Beautiful Month, the Syrian architect and author Marwa Al-Sabouni spoke at Policy Exchange on “The Loss of Home”. Marwa appeared in conversation with Sir Roger Scruton and was introduced by Tom Tugendhat MP.


About the event

The loss of home has become a global epidemic. Many cities around the world are facing comparable housing crises – albeit with varying causes. In her work, Marwa Al-Sabouni links the urban and architectural transformations that happened to Syrian cities before the war to the ongoing “Armageddon” experienced by her country during it. In this talk, Marwa explains the context to the Syrian housing crisis and the loss of home experienced by millions, the creation of informalities and their place in the conflict, and how to address these problems.

About Marwa Al-Sabouni

Marwa Al-Sabouni is a Syrian practising architect and author of The Battle for Home, published by Thames and Hudson in 2016. She is a 2018 Prince Claus Fund laureate and was listed as one of the top contenders for the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2018. Her TED Talk was selected among the best TED talks of 2016 and was viewed over 900,000 times. She also was listed as one of the top 10 experts on Syria’s reconstruction. She holds a PhD in architectural design. Marwa previously spoke at Policy Exchange via video-link at a 2016 event on City and the Citizen: Building for Community.

About Policy Exchange’s Building Beautiful month

This November, in what we are calling our Building Beautiful Month, Policy Exchange is holding three public events on housing and architecture while also publishing an essay collection on popular design and style and its importance to new housebuilding. The Building Beautiful Month brings together architects, planners, housebuilders and policymakers to consider the most important domestic issue of our time – the housing supply crisis, and the importance of design, style and architecture to solving it. It follows our agenda-setting poll and report, which showed the public are much more likely to consent to new homes when they are built in designs and styles that are popular. Event speakers will include Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Sir Roger Scruton, Marwa Al-Sabouni and many more.

About Policy Exchange’s focus on Place

So much of the division in our politics and society revolves around a sense of place, or a lack of it. Who are we? What communities do we feel we belong to? Who are we prepared to make sacrifices for? These are essential questions which cut across policy in everything from housing development and the provision of public services, to devolution and Britain’s future outside the European Union.

Policy Exchange is kickstarting a new debate on the importance of place, explaining how it shapes our politics, from a local to a national level, from the smallest village to the nation-state. We will research how the state’s policy levers, including for housing, infrastructure and decentralisation, are rapidly changing. And we will explain how the opportunity to make a generational shift in the way communities are built is within reach. It is, we firmly believe, possible to transform growing communities into true – and beautiful – settlements, where everyone is given the opportunity to call somewhere home.

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