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Designing Reconciliation after Urban Warfare

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Title:Designing Reconciliation after Urban Warfare
Authors:Tada, Kanoa Takara
Contributors:Anderson, Amy (advisor)
Architecture (department)
Date Issued:May 2011
Abstract:The cycle of conflict can repeat itself through a city’s rebuilding. In the most extreme cases where the space of a city has become divided, disconnected, and socially segregated, remnant fear, anxiety, and hostility after years of violence are perpetuated through contested territory. This research is interested in the intersection between spatial practice and reconciliation in the aftermath of war. Divided cities that experience ethnic warfare, specifically Beirut, Belfast, and Nicosia have been affected by cyclical violence and consequential trauma. Physical manifestations that were expressions of conflict have had negative long-term impacts that affect social recovery. By understanding the dynamics of conflict, intervention, and spatial patterns that occur before, during and after war, similarities of challenges that pervade these types of cities begin to emerge. The objective is to build a conceptual framework that serves to engage the architect, planner, and urban designer to activate the healing of social space. One theme of these three cities is the homogenization that happens during warfare. After conflict, the geography of the city continues to suffer from social segregation of these antagonistic groups who become isolated unto themselves. Isolation in turn causes a snowball of negative effects that proliferate in the political, economic, and social environment. Stability and the quality of life after war in the face of physical divisions/demarcations/security measures become almost insurmountable for those who were the most impacted. This is due to the perceived insecurity that is enforced by the physical barricades that were erected during violence and kept long after the formal end of the war. To address this social handicap, it is important to understand the effects of physical division related to fear, anxiety and insecurity that has continued an ethos of hostility. If the intentions to increase security with constructs instead perpetuate the cycle of violence over the long term, then reconsideration of the physical environment, its composition and consequences, as well as active engagement towards progress in these environments must be undertaken. Defining reconciliation as a priority in segregated post-conflict cities poses the question of how spatial practice can counter divisiveness that scars these cities. Belfast, Nicosia, and Beirut are case studies that, through their successes and failures, build a process to actively involve the architect with the healing of social space; both action and inaction have resounding impacts.
Pages/Duration:176 pages
Appears in Collections: D.ARCH. - Architecture

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