matterbetter_dev has initiated Syria: Post-War Housing Competition for architectural students and professionals. Competition participants were asked to propose a solution for housing scarcity crisis, which will affect the country as more and more cities of the war-torn country will be freed and refugees will start to come back. Living conditions in the current refugee camps and temporary buildings across Europe and other countries are mostly inhuman, making refugees feel desperate, since there’s also nowhere to come back as the Syrian towns are in ruins, offering nothing to people who once lived there.

The vital part of the new housing concept should become a creation of such living conditions which will be attractive for once displaced Syrians to return. People, who spent years in temporary shelters and adapted buildings, will look for “solid ground” to begin a new life. New housing concept should be able to permanently accommodate people in need of a new home and become a new page in the history of Syria.

matterbetter_dev has received 245 submissions. International Jury Board, which consisted from Urko Sanchez, Dick van Gameren, Felix Madrazo, Riccardo Luca Conti, Laurens Bekemans, Rune Asholt, Cristina Cassandra Murphy and Daria Polozkova, has selected the Winners and Honorable Mentions of the Syria: Post-War Housing Competition.

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – House100
107808 / Nemanja Mitrović, Đina Prnjat / Montenegro

Jury Comment:
House100 takes off from a very beautiful view of the social relation between people, coming together to shape there lives after the war and doing it in close connection to nature and well known building traditions. Housing100 is a very beautiful project, constructed with a simple technique using mud. This together with the simple shape, make the house goes very well together with the surroundings. Although a wall surrounds the compound, the fine balance of openings and the shift in surfaces on the first floor, makes it look welcoming as the same time as protective. The scale from the outer shape to the inner yards, to the private gardens, to the private spaces looks to work very nicely only using very simple means. Overall, it is very impressive that this house works with so many technical aspects as natural cooling, airflow, easy construction with very simple solutions and make it work so well together the social connections and the awareness of security. – Rune Asholt

The project is located outside the context of the razed city to start again. It successfully combines the need for security and community life. It proposes a frame with different levels of privacy, common spaces with an interesting scale within a closed area and well resolved homes, taking into account the spatial quality and energy viability. – Urko Sánchez

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – Cultivated Legacy
270672 / Hugo Lebrunet, Clément Loyer, Ulysse Zehnlé / France

Jury Comment:
Interesting proposal with a poetic component. The vegetation over the ruins reflects the passing of time and thus the arrival of Peace. Introducing agricultural production over the ruins results in a very powerful image. It expresses the idea of community work which fits in a Community that starts almost from zero: basic production for basic needs. It suggests an interesting background to the future houses. – Urko Sánchez
Clear and clever Idea addressing the memory more than people. Good concept tackling the biggest issue of the philosophical discussion around ruins. It could be an iconic starting point of discussion. Not considering the local culture, clear graphic. – Riccardo Luca Conti

It is a wonderful idea and it is worth mentioning. Interesting concept of mutual support and collaboration: rebuilding out of something which has been destroyed is clever! Instead of letting decay to take over, there is a conscious human action to better a very sad situation. Harvesting the old structure and facilitating convivialities through spatial circumstances and goods exchange is intelligent and can be conducive to fundamental urban, architectural, economical and social greater thoughts. – Cristina Murphy

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition
Honorable Mention – Extended Citadel
322825 / Giacomo Caputo / Italy

Jury Comment:
Sensitive and neat proposal. It considers the different levels of destruction and acts in consequence, resulting on a simple solution very well integrated in the city. The clean graphism and the way it explains the proposal is in line with the idea it communicates. – Urko Sánchez

The strategy components seems relevant, preservation, reuse, demolition, reconstruction of the fabric. ‘The right way is to rebuild the city’ as opposed to building elsewhere seems convincing from an ethical but also environmental point of view. Also a focus on the damaged central quarters seems a priority most projects should address as it affects both the social and the psychological well being of its inhabitants. The architecture proposed is humble in scale, form and materialisation, it is always in search of a healing effect with the context, perhaps even too much to the point of forgetting eventually any trace of the past. Growth within the scheme seems easily achievable without jeopardising the urban scale approach when seeing the tests in a scale of few houses. A potential disadvantages of the reconstruction using micro interventions in the scale of the house unit are multiple: property conflicts, slow speed of reconstruction due to fragmented strategy of resources and labour, lack of desired density in some areas. In any case if this strategy is to be implemented it needs a masterplan of intervention in a city scale to guarantee its sucess. – Felix Madrazo

Conservation intervention, no modularity or flexibility. Considering tradition and local culture and defining the approach to the ruins. Poor graphic and not really original. – Riccardo Luca Conti

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – Top-Down Regeneration
482429 / Aleksandar Stanicic, Andrea Jelic, Milan Šijaković / Serbia

Jury Comment:
The initial idea is very interesting: a structural system that allows living on the rubble of the city and is able to grow at the pace the debris are being retreated. However, the technical solution proposed seems difficult to execute. – Urko Sánchez

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – Phoenix
498464 / Petar Tomas, Tijana Perović, Jelica Babić / Montenegro

Jury Comment:
Phoenix is a very beautiful idea. It will take a long time for the city to get to a state, where you do not constantly see traces of what has happened. The idea to raise a building that can be seen from a fare, to remind you that the city is moving forward is nice. The tower also takes traditional elements like the traditional courtyard, the arches and the green social spaces and weave it very nicely together to address many of the challenges building in the warm climate. This at the same time it becomes a part of the facade and therefor show theses traditional values to the city. Though it addresses several issues that are more technical as airflow to help the sun heating and the greenery to cool the air, it remains a very clear concept. – Rune Asholt

Although at first glance the proposal seems to out of place in the collage, there are certain qualities that are worth mentioning. The first is the advantage of high rise reconstruction, this method could be not only efficient in terms of construction time but also taking into account the way the city fabrics are currently damaged in a very random way. The availability of small plots that become used with this level of density seems radical but worth considering. The proposal when taken as a possible strategy for reinforcing current structures damaged by war is sadly not develop though it would be easily applicable with the proposed double skin envelope suggestion. The variety of open spaces, scales and the introduction of greenery and ventilation gives the proposal an attractive architectural side that could be developed also in other city typologies. – Felix Madrazo

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – Typical Block / Lemon
548242 / Gordana Vujovic , Elzana Husovic, Nina Culafic / Montenegro

Jury Comment:
Inspirational space and atmospheres. Graphically interesting representation of the spaces. Including elements from the tradition. It is a building of inclusiveness and cooperation. Not really clear plans and modules. - Riccardo Luca Conti
The courtyard block seems not only a option that is compatible with the climate and the cultural affinities to this architectural solution, but it can play a crucial role in reconstructing the broken social fabric that afflicts the Syrian society. Interaction with your neighbours seems the best possible therapy for a reconstruction period as opposed to everyone is on its own. The proposal though could seem generic, yet becomes interesting when seen from an urban scale as the blocks could change priority though scale of positioning within the urban network of pedestrian links. A possible critique is the lack of engagement with any urban agenda regarding the destruction of the urban fabric. Also the proposed scale of the courtyards with only 6 units might prove too slow for the reconstruction speeds that could be on demand.– Felix Madrazo

This project is presented very emotionally. The concept is very clean. To bring people together and through smells and texture work with associations to put a terrible time behind you. The project is very nicely put together through a patchwork of fragments that all together create very beautiful spaces. A sent of a flower, put together with a story of the way people help each other, a simple illustration showing colors and texture and an unfinished plan. If you take one of them alone, they might seem simple, but together they gives you a very detailed vision of how the frames of the new life could be. – Rune Asholt

 Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – El Pati
631440 / Lukas Fertig, Matthias Knab / Spain and Germany

Jury Comment:
Interesting idea. Not really facing the issue of the ruin or try to adapt to the tradition. Although the artefact has a powerful architectural language and an interesting concept. One of the few groups addressing sustainability in a clear and effective presentation.- Riccardo Luca Conti

It is interesting the idea of a block with patio able to open and close to the outside, allocating both public and private uses. This provides a solution to the need for security through a versatile block capable of subsisting isolated or generating interesting urban patterns. - Urko Sánchez

The proposal stands out of its simplicity. From the outside an austere volume opens to the city only on demand, this is contrasted with its interior that incorporates porosity, shadows, greenery and social interaction. Its urban qualities allow the use of ground floor for multiple uses for both the city or the block itself. Growth seems possible without damaging the urban qualities to a certain height. The architecture also reflects a coherent concern for environmental challenges and thus its outer skin is solved in a way that diminishes overheating of the exterior envelope. Although the scale of the proposal seems flexible enough to be implemented in a fragmented scale it is difficult to forecast how this scheme could perform in an urban scale where several of its units are repeated. In such scenario it might prove too harsh the minimum interaction with the outside world through its hermetic facades. Regarding privacy, it is not clear whether the scheme solves this issue with its gallery corridors next to living areas. - Felix Madrazo

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – Therapeutic Decay
762865 / Hancheng Chen, Hsing-O Chiang / Taiwan

Jury Comment:
Original approach and clear intent. Another philosophical point of view on ruins. Really iconic. Out of the topic. - Riccardo Luca Conti
Reflexive way to rebuild dealing with the loss of a past life. The project gathers a series of beautiful and suggestive ideas on different scales although it misses a powerful common thread to tie them all up. In any case, the resulting idea is a highly poetical technological solution with blurred limits. - Urko Sánchez

A project appreciated for combining structural logic with ecological water collecting techniques. The strategy of creating structural grids, flexible towards future use, based on local construction methods while considering the irrigation of its open and public 'between' spaces is interesting. The exploration on how architectural structures can become recipients of ecological strategies and infrastructure is very inspiring and merits to be mentioned. - Laurens Bekemans
This idea is to honored for its innovation and elegance: the essence is simple, pure and clever. From an urban point of view, the proposal is very romantic and softly unifies a city that has been disturbed and drastically disorganized in its core. The image of this proposal is almost belonging to a different planet, an oasis that proposes a new and hopeful biosphere for its inhabitants. - Cristina Murphy

Syria: Post-War Housing Competition

Honorable Mention – Gabion Block
770355 / Aleksandr Kelkh, Dmitrii Kupressov, Tatiana Kan, Vladimir Sorokin / Russia

Jury Comment:
Original and catchy graphic. Interesting proposal, not much flexibility. The proposed technology is arguable and perhaps not economically sustainable. A cubic meter is not a good dimension for a module (even worst for a wall) and the system has a lot of limitations. On the other hand is a simple idea that could enrich the discussion about rubble. - Riccardo Luca Conti

Very coherent project throughout its development. The idea of using debris gabions as basic construction blocks solves the design of the buildings. It generates very versatile public and private spaces, although the proposed one seems a little rigid. - Urko Sánchez

Again a very clear and thought out project. The use of gabions with the debris is often proposed, but this project brings it to a high level of detail. The design shows the understanding of the potential of the gabion technique in order to create spaces protected from the sun, thick massive walls protecting from the heat,... The drawings proof that the Syrian typologies have been studied and the low rise solutions are adapted to the gabion construction system. The way of building has been thought through starting from the processing of the ruined materials and is pushed towards a very interesting level of detail which is elegantly presented. - Laurens Bekemans
This submission takes the risk of incorporating in the design a reading of several scales without losing perspective of the objectives of each zoom. Starting from the re-use of ruble embedded in gabions in a modular way that is able to make rooms which in turn make the housing units. At the block level the scheme makes a smart move by rotating the orientation of the second level units to the opposite direction, thus creating entrance terraces that give life to the side streets while the contacting point at ground levelto the main street occurs at the center through a pououros portico. The proposal that is heavy in its architecture is completed by light layers of textile fabrics for creating shadows as well as solar panels for energy collection. The units themselves will work but they lack any possibility of variation. The small rooms will over condition any change of use per housing unit. It would have been desirable to see the proposal tested in a more restrictive area affected by war or contiguous to it. – Felix Madrazo

Unique presentation representing a viable idea. The care of the representation and the adequate implementation of a system is welcome. Unlike other proposals, the common aspect of this project is well thought: it is apparent that the system can be worked out by the inhabitants who not only can generate an economy for themselves but they are in the unique position of recreating an environment for them, their families and their community. - Cristina Murphy
/ Winners Project Submissions PDF