The Battle for Home
The Memoir of a Syrian Architect
- ISBN 9780500343173
- 23.40 x 15.60 cm
- 32 Illustrations, 0 in colour
- First published 2016
A gripping account of living and working in a ravaged Syria, and the role architecture plays in whether a community crumbles or comes together
‘A remarkable book … [al Sabouni’s] ideals, and those of countless moderates like her, deserve our admiration and support’ – Times Literary Supplement
'An understated gem of a book … gripping'– The Spectator
‘Marwa al-Sabouni writes with clarity and conviction'– The Times
‘… reveals uncomfortable truths and important questions about the fate of cities when social cohesion disintegrates. But she also offers astute insights into how urban centres could be reimagines and rebuilt in the aftermath of conflict’ – RA Magazine
‘A profound, understated meditation on architecture’s capacity both to civilise and destroy, written while the author herself witnessed first-hand the destruction of her native city of Homs’– OpenDemocracy.net
Read the interview with Marwa al-Sabouni in the Guardian.com
‘The moving record of one person’s effort to stay loyal to her homeland, at a time of great suffering and personal distress. It tells a painful and tragic story. But it is also the expression of a beautiful soul, who comes to us out of a confused and dreadful battle with a message of hope’– Roger Scruton
’Everyone in Syria has lived this war. Every day people have fought for their lives, every day has brought a bid for survival, but it is not only bodies that suffer; souls, too, go through these battles, dying a thousand times in anticipation, only to rise up wearily to face another day.’
So begins the eyewitness account of Marwa al-Sabouni, a young architect based in war-torn Homs, on the country’s bitter conflict. Seen through the revealing lens of architecture and depicted with clarity, conviction and deep intelligence, she shares her personal experience of how the built environment directly affects the community that inhabits it, how the stage for civil war has long been set in her country, and how architecture might play a role in reversing the damage.
The Battle for Home reveals uncomfortable truths and asks important questions, but ultimately offers hope, for rebuilding both a proud country and a much-needed sense of identity.
'We have so many challenges ahead. The need is urgent, both in terms of providing people with homes, and bringing back to us all a part of what we have lost. But what we lost wasn’t right in the first place. I strongly believe that. In some ways, it led us here. We traded the values of our old Islamic architecture for the profligate consumer model, and in the process we lost ourselves.'
Marwa al-Sabouni has a PhD in Islamic Architecture and runs a private architectural studio in Homs, Syria. She started the first and only website dedicated to architectural news in Arabic, Arch-news.net. Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher specializing in aesthetics, with a particular interest in the Levant and architecture. His books include The Dictionary of Political Thought, A Land Held Hostage: Lebanon and the West and The Aesthetics of Architecture.