Kadi talks designing in postwar zones

Architecture students were given a glimpse Thursday night into the impact architecture can have on unstable regions — particularly in postwar development zones.

Makram el Kadi, the Louis I. Kahn visiting professor at the School of Architecture, led a lecture about his work, built in postwar zones such as Lebanon. The lecture is part of the school’s Thursday lecture series.

During his lecture on post-war architecture, Makram el Kadi discussed how many of his buildings reflect the local strife that surrounds them.
During his lecture on post-war architecture, Makram el Kadi discussed how many of his buildings reflect the local strife that surrounds them.

Kadi’s lecture focused on how history and culture have been informing his design practices. He highlighted specific buildings from his portfolio that are located in cities that are fractured by religious and political splits, showing how his structures were built around these principles.

Kadi showed his design for the Exhibition of Contemporary Art building in Beirut, Lebanon, which was completed earlier last year. Kadi noted that the building was constructed in a part of the city that is growing particularly quickly. As a result, he decided to sheath the building in mirrored glass to give the city a view of itself, reflecting on its fast-paced development.

“It is important to understand the principle of using contemporary materials to create a relationship between architecture and culture,” Kadi said. “[It’s important to push] architecture from an aesthetic perspective, while also keeping in mind the economic, social and ultimately political perspectives.”

Three students interviewed following the lecture said they thought the talk was interesting, noting how it highlighted topics that are normally not discussed in studio, such as designing in war zones.

“It sounded like an interesting blend of culture and economics, two things that are often mistaken as antagonists,” said Helen Wang ’14, a prospective science major interested in architecture.

Kadi’s projects range from creating postcards of Lebanon to building playgrounds in troubled areas.

While attending the lectures does not count for credit at the School of Architecture, students are encouraged to attend to get a different perspective about architecture than they would from their everyday curricula, audience member Amy Castler ARC ’13 said.

Kadi is teaching a lecture and a studio seminar at the School of Architecture this semester. His studio class will travel to Beirut later this spring.

The Thursday night lecture series will continue until April 14.

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