Location : Damascus, Syria
Clients & Partners : Institut français du Proche-Orient , Damasucs Municipality
Project Phase: Completed 2011
Type of assignment : Competition - first prize
Moment is an urban exhibition dedicated to Sarouja, the threatened historic district of Damascus, aims to avoid installing art pieces and sculptures in the city but to design a spatial experience for both human and buildings. Moment considers Sarouja as a huge sculpture full of the sufficient architectural, urban and social details that only needs to be framed.
Sarouja is the extension of old Damascus outside the wall, started in the Ayyubid period. It is the natural evolving of the city to the mountain, of the earth to the sky. Therefore, Sarouja was the place that held different types of compositions, proportions and sometimes the lifestyles of Damascene people. It was inhabited by rich Ottomans leaders and fulfilled with tombs and shrines.
Sarouja now has been of its context; the new master-planning of Damascus done by Michel Ecochard had cut the district out of its natural hub and enclosed it with concrete and empty plots. Visitors of the district witness a very rapid and surprising shock by entering the area as it instantly take one’s perception to another module.
In Damascus, we do not need an artistic approach as we already have an appropriate and original context scattered in the details of our city. There is a tremendous quantity of visual scenarios encouraging us to stop and observe, and it goes even further when we know that these scenarios are not fresh born; they are an accumulation of many stories, events and information.
But we usually forget, we forget to stop.
It is because we wait for a source to illustrate our moment; we wait the media or maybe some art paintings, we wait the sculptures on the sidewalk to give us its moment. But what if we inverted the rules and we started to look for a detail in places we occupy.
What if we go straightaway to the moment?
1- The big museum
Considering the old district as a big sculpture with fractaliz-ed details, moment spreads all through the main Souq of Sarouja and starts to capture the details one by one
Making observing routs for users and visitors, the routs are three paths assembling the entrances of Sarouja from the surrounding streets.
Enriching the visual image with information about each capturing frame and detail, the information varies between history, architectural composition, biographies and urban planning.
1- The presence
Moment element is simply a freezed frame of a living picture; it is a scope that is placed to have an optical focus on details, views, personalities and problems.
2- The absence
Moments does not only focuses on the living part of Sarouja, but it also involve the history of the area. Many modifications and planning issues were applied to the district, buildings were demolished, others appeared. Moment also focuses on those details which are only the people’s memories and history’s texts.
3- The decision
The three routs of Moment experience intersect in the central square of Sarouja were a third category of the elements were placed, the element addresses two aerial pictures of Sarouja 1927 and Sarouja 2011. The user then will have the right to think what is good and what is not, and will also compare the two situations and their effects on the old cities.