Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo

Laura Kurgan (South Africa, USA) and the Center for Spatial Research (USA)

Istanbul Archaeological Museums


“In the midst of civil war in Syria we have created a map to assess damage to the built fabric of Aleppo (Halab), one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, using satellite images. What is urban damage? A process, a fact, a crime, an image? A trace of the human?…  Although recent developments in international criminal law have incorporated the destruction of cultural heritage into the understanding of genocide… it remains difficult to try this erasure of culture in a court of law… The Ancient City of Aleppo, including the Citadel, was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986… On September 30, [2012,] as it was burning, the Director-General of UNESCO… reminded the Syrian government that it was bound by the Hague Convention ‘to do its utmost to safeguard this heritage from the ravages of war.’” ––LK, GB, DB


Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is a research project that employs contemporary mapping techniques to measure the destruction of the urban environment of Aleppo during the civil war of the past five years. Using data extracted from satellite imagery, video and multiple other sources, the installation presents an open-source, interactive, layered map of Aleppo, at the neighborhood scale, videos and a website. Conflict Urbanism reveals the appalling destructions, erasures and displacements of cultural heritage that must be condemned under law.