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Historic Preservation in Syria

Over the last 50 years, preservation in Syria focused on restoring architecturally significant buildings, "sometimes destroyed the communities around them," writes Nicolai Ouroussoff. A plaza in Aleppo represents a change in strategy.

Ouroussoff says the new project focuses as much on restoring community life as on the buildings that contain it, a major change from historical precedent:

"The role of postwar urban planning in the rise of fundamentalism is well documented. In the 1950s and '60s nationalist governments in countries like Egypt, Syria and Iraq typically viewed the congested alleys and cramped interiors of historic centers not as exotic destinations for tourists but as evidence of a backward culture to be erased. Planners carved broad avenues through dense cities, much as Haussmann had before them in Paris. Families that had lived a compartmentalized existence - with men often segregated from women in two- or three-story courtyard houses - were forced into high-rises with little privacy, while the wealthy fled for villas in newly created suburbs."

Full Story: Preserving Heritage, and the Fabric of Life, in Syria

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