The Book

Rupturing architecture: spatial practices of refuge in response to war and violence in Iraq is an examination of transient changes to the built environment that could yield new design approaches to spaces of refuge in Iraq: the informal making and re-making of home, domestic, urban and border spaces of refuge from traumatic events during times of war, conflict and displacement between the years of 2003 and 2020 is the focus of this study. The book follows, through memories, the lived experiences of Iraqis from the north to the south who have been subjected to such events in the context of Iraq’s recent history from the 2003 invasion through to the sectarian violence between 2006 and 2007, ISIS’s atrocities against the Yazidi community in the northwest of Iraq and Mosul in 2014, through to the 2019 Tishreen Revolution and up until the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and the peak of the political turmoil in Iraq.

Through empirical fieldwork and critical reflexive and performative practice, this book advances the field of spatial justice within the disciplines of architecture and design especially towards a just framing of these disciplines in the context of the Middle East. It further contributes to human geography and sociology, especially around the volatility of the concepts of home, domesticity, urbanity and their associated trauma; and to post war and conflict urban studies as seen through memory-work and three scales of spatiality in relation to time. It puts forward a new practice of spatial justice as a socially rooted approach into building structures of refuge for the future (post-war and conflict development projects). More specifically, it harnesses the collective memory and lived experiences of people’s making and re-making of their lived and imagined environments driven by an ethics of reflexivity, providing a plurality of views from the ground up into structures of refuge.

The book adopts a feminist, postcolonial and post-structuralist research-based spatial practice as a framework for a deep mapping methodological approach, crossing spatio-temporal disciplinary boundaries in a performative way to collectively connect layers of knowledge in imaginative ruptured and violated spatial practices. It uses a mixed methods approach combining archival material, textual analysis, storytelling (through interviews) with Iraqis (currently living in Iraq, in exile/diaspora, and those on the borders in camps), and case studies of architectural buildings and events, supported by photographs depicting the ruptured spaces of refuge, with counter-maps and drawings elicited cognitively through dialogues between the researcher and fifteen Iraqi participants. It engages with people’s constant spatial struggle with trauma revealing their influence in shaping new design and spatial practices for post-war and conflict structures of living and refuge. Through people’s ruptured architecture, the book asks: spatially, what does the examination of possibilities brought by negotiated, disrupted and ruptured spaces of refuge illuminate in terms of opportunities to reframe future design practice, particularly for post-war architectural solutions to trauma? In light of limitations, what design possibilities can be afforded for a future of just spatiality?

The book concludes with a manifesto of spatial justice that recognizes design approaches that emerge from struggles and negotiations with multiplicity of spatiality under the influence of protracted rupture. Elicited through a palimpsest approach (textually and spatially) lessons for an alternative just spatial practice of structures of refuge are uncovered, and presented as a future design practice for architecture and cities of refuge in times of war and trauma. The book is contracted to be published by Bloomsbury in 2024.