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(21-22) Towards an Architecture of Peace

Master dissertation studio, Brussels
Tutor: Lilet Breddels

Architecture of Peace explores how architects and urban planners can and should play a significant role in facilitating the process of rebuilding and stabilizing post-conflict spaces. By accepting the notion that war and conflict are both ongoing conditions that won’t dis­appear, it becomes necessary to address the complex­ity of these conditions through an understanding of the different stages that occur during the establishment of peace. Notions of ‘negative peace’ and ‘positive peace’ are crucial to understanding the complexity of this task; and an analysis of the conditions in each of these stag­es can provide insight, in order to ensure a productive role in the transformation process from the start. Thus, the program explores the creation of lasting peace through architecture and planning projects designed to stabilize, humanize, and rebuild cities and territo­ries devastated by conflict. It questions whether architecture can be an instrument of peace and conflict prevention, and it highlights the complexities alongside factors of success and failure involved in this process. The insights gained in the studio will also be of use in thinking about sustainable building and conflict prevention in areas under social tensions.

The master dissertation studio focuses on the possibilities for architecture and architects to make a positive contribution to a post conflict situation. It looks at the tools and tricks the architect has available and points at the dangers of instigating new strife through physical intervention. The studio takes Beirut as a start of the investigation but the site of intervention is free for the students to choose from. The August blast in Beirut was only another blow in an already impossible situation and long history of conflict and overcoming that. It serves as an area to look at different aspects of the field in close collaboration with tutors and students from Lebanon and Beirut. The ‘learning from’ is focusing on postwar circumstances but the interventions can be applicable to any conflictual situation in any city today. The semester will give an overview of the main dilemma’s involved, the do’s and don’ts, mentalities and strategies, facts and figures through studying case-studies, discussing with experts from conflict studies and experience experts, and literature study. The final deliverable will be a design and a written thesis.

As a kick off the studio will start with an intensive period preferably in Beirut in November. If the physical trip is not possible due to Covid we will work online. The rest of the semester takes place on the campus in Brussels with weekly sessions in which the first few weeks have a more group format and towards the end it becomes more individual.