The Challenge of Conflict-Affected Cities: Building Peace Through Architecture and Urban Design

Eleni Spiliotes
Tuesday 3 January 2023

Ensari, Elif, Sucuoglu, Gizem, Breivik-Khan, Håvard and Can Sucuoglu. 2016. Paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention, Atlanta, USA, March, 2016. ResearchGate.

Using the case study of Kabul, Afghanistan, this article argues for the use of architecture and urban planning as peacebuilding tools in conflict-affected cities. The authors explain that Kabul’s urban forms both reflect and contribute to the web of interrelated factors, including social inequality, radicalization, and securitization by international actors, which have bred conflict in Afghanistan for over two decades. With the inclusion of building sustainable cities as a goal in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the authors believe that there is an opportunity for conflict-affected governments to prioritize visualizing peace spatially. It is important to note that this article was written before the return to power of the Taliban in 2021, which makes architectural interventions in Kabul less plausible. However, the authors’ emphasis on the potential of public space for cultivating a sense of ownership, belonging, and cohesion, cannot be overlooked. By reimagining the role of the architect to be one of political, as well as architectural design, the authors posit that the process of design itself can encourage collaboration and participation between interest groups.


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