Project description by jury
Since 2015, Yemen has experienced times of great political unrest that have resulted in a civil war and consequent damage throughout the country. The architectural heritage has been impacted by this conflict, and several important cultural sites have been severely damaged or, in some cases, almost entirely destroyed. This proposal aims to rehabilitate or reconstruct important Yemeni cultural landmarks, notably three Sufi shrines and two mosques in Hadramut, two mosques and the Domes of Al Habib Abu Bakr in Shihr and the Shaikh Yaqub Dome of Mukalla. The project also addresses the imminent danger of the further collapse of structures that are already damaged.
Led by the Daw’an Architecture Foundation with the support of local authorities, the design encompasses impressive in-situ capacity building. Young people from the community participate in training schemes on the building sites, that aim to raise awareness of the historic cultural heritage and resources in their region. The reconstruction also involves local master builders and artisans as the project prioritizes the use of traditional building techniques and materials, including mud bricks and a water-resistant plaster to ensure the long-term sustainability of the edifices. This not only goes in favor of the local economy but contributes also to an ecologically sound building restoration. Stone used in construction is mostly collected on-site from debris, minimizing the need for new materials.
The Holcim Awards jury Middle East Africa applauded the project’s ambition to restore the integrity and social beliefs of a community through the rehabilitation of Yemeni historic sites rich with social, cultural and spiritual values. The project reaffirms the significance of the inherited aesthetic forms, which have a lasting impact on the quality of their environment. The interventions are conducted with high cultural and environmental awareness, that show a sensitive and respectful approach towards places and their history.See more
As a Main category prize winner in the regional Holcim Awards 2020, Post-war Reconstruction in Yemen automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2021.
Yemen has been torn by civil war since 2015, which has caused vast destruction throughout the country. Many significant cultural sites have been severely damaged or entirely destroyed. This project aims to restore and rehabilitate some of the most important buildings. Nine landmarks are being reconstructed: three Sufi shrines, four mosques, and two domes. The project is being done with the support of the local authorities and the local community. Master masons and skilled artisans are leading the reconstruction work, using traditional building methods and materials, and training people on site.
“Our projects are sustainable due to the design and construction system, using natural resources and materials,” explains prizewinner Salma Samar Damluji of the Daw'an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon. “The buildings interact in perfect balance with the environment.” The jury found that the project reaffirms the significance of inherited aesthetic forms that have a lasting impact on the quality of the built environment. The interventions are conducted with high cultural and environmental awareness, showing a sensitive and respectful approach toward places and their history. The jury applauded the project’s ambition to restore the integrity and social beliefs of a community through the rehabilitation of Yemeni historic sites rich with social, cultural, and spiritual values.Read more »
Culture, Participation & Dissemination of Knowledge
The project was dedicated to resuscitating important cultural landmarks through investing in the traditional building techniques and systems. The project, led by Daw'an Architecture Foundation (an NGO based in Hadramut) with the support of the local authorities (Office of the Governor of Hadramut), encompassed in-situ capacity building. Youth from the community participated in training schemes on the building sites, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of the architectural skills and resources in their region. The reconstruction engaged local master builders and craftspeople, with their knowledge and expertise, in responding to the inherent challenge involved in sensitively restoring the war-torn urban fabric and its aesthetic impact.
Innovation & Ecological Footprint
The materials are entirely locally sourced, and contribute to the environmentally viable and ecologically sound building systems in Hadramut. In damaged buildings, structural reinforcement was achieved through an intervention process with incisions to insert wooden wall ties, and circular stone pillars to support existing walls. Most of the stone used in the construction was collected on site from the debris of the edifice minimising waste. An innovative deployment of the materials was the research and development of a water-resistant plaster called Saruj (crushed fired clay mixed with lime and sand). Reintroducing this resilient product to the building processes of the four sites ensured the long-term sustainability of the edifices, and interaction with the natural environment.
Impact & Social inclusion
The impact lies in the quality of reconstruction of public monuments that were deliberately destroyed in broad daylight as witnessed by the whole community. This is highlighted by a contemporary approach to the building discipline that is sustainable and economically viable, while introducing innovative use of local materials.
The project resulted in the restoring the integrity and social beliefs of the community that celebrates the spaces and places of revered Sufi sages and practice their faith and rituals in peace, while reaffirming the significance of the inherited aesthetic forms, which have a lasting impact on the quality of their environment. The local authorities and community are directly responsible for the maintenance and operation of the completed buildings.See more
The buildings were constructed in traditional earthen methods, but their destruction could have imminently led to a concrete reconstruction project that doesn’t fit in the local environment. Materials were produced locally on site and from the immediate surroundings which eliminates energy consumption from processing and transportation. Additionally, they do not require any thermal energy in the manufacturing process. Thus, the walls and roofs in the buildings reconstructed and rehabilitated, have a thermal mass property that eliminates the use of mechanical heating and cooling systems in arid climates such as the highly humid areas of Mukalla and Shihr where the projects are located. Consequently, these buildings are contributing to the balance of the environment and the ecosystem.
A project for the reconstruction of historical sites as a mechanism for cultural, social and economic enhancement of …
Author comment by Salma Samar Damluji, Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation at the American University of Beirut, …
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