Night Vision

Workshop with senior members of Riwaq, Khaldun Bshara (co-director,Riwaq), Suad Amiry (founder,Riwaq), Ruba Salim (architect and designer, Riwaq), Michel Salameh (architect restorer, Riwaq), Lana Judeh (architect, Riwaq), Renad Shqerat (environmental designer, Riwaq), Shatha Safi (architect, Riwaq ) and local guests: Hana Alamuddin (Department of Architecture & Design, AUB), Caecilia L. Pieri (Institut français du Proche-Orient), and Yasmine Makaroun (teacher in Fine Arts Faculty and Center for Restoration and Conservation, Lebanese University)

This session addresses key challenges and pitfalls of architectural and conservational practice as defined by Riwaq. The workshop will address the possibilities of harboring an overarching professional vision in the context of today, as well as the peculiar role of public intellectual or social engineer that the Riwaq agenda inevitably invokes.

This workshop is part of Traction 2: Workshopping the Riwaq Biennale, a seminar by Resident Professor Khalil Rabah, taking place from November 17 – 21, 2014 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. The seminar is presented as part of Rabah's workshop for HWP 2014-15: Setups / Situations / Institutions.

Traction 2 doubles as the 5th Riwaq Biennale's (RB5) contribution to Home Workspace Program (HWP) 2014-15 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. As a whole, it will reflect all the key components of RB5. The seminar begins with an introduction to the biennale program and the Riwaq agenda, and features extensive tours of sites that were pivotal to the Palestinian experience in and around Beirut. In an exploration of HWP and the RB5 educational program NADI, Traction 2 also addresses the promises and pitfalls of informal art education over recent decades. Finally, the seminar ends with a transregional investigation of the institutional memory of contemporary art since the 1990s.

The seminar forms the second part of the RB5 public program, Traction, which is structured as a long series of responses to institutions and events throughout Palestine and its immediate neighborhood. It aims to push the biennale to be thinking “through” the structures of contemporary art, as opposed to thinking “about” or “against” them. In this spirit of chronic infiltrations and slow tenacity, RB5 will span a full two years, which may allow this brief visit to Lebanon to become a lasting contribution to a longer, accumulative conversation. Traction 2 is not only an infiltration of HWP in Beirut, where RB artistic director Khalil Rabah is one of the year’s resident professors, but an opportunity to enrich and indeed infiltrate the RB5 agenda in and of itself.

Traction is a programme proposed and organized by the 5th Riwaq Biennale in Palestine.

Traction 2 is an event produced and organized by the Homeworks Program Ashkal Alwan and the 5th Riwaq Biennale in Palestine

The seminar is open to the public. Some events have limited capacity and require registration.

A conservation architect and anthropologist, Khaldun is currently Co-Director of RIWAQ where he has worked since 1994. He received his BSc in architectural engineering from Birzeit University (1996) and his MA in Conservation of Historic Towns and Buildings from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (2000). Interested in space and memory, Bshara graduated from the University of California Irvine with an MA in Anthropology in 2009 and a PhD in 2012.

A prominent architect, writer, and community leader, Suad Amiry is the founder of RIWAQ. She is the author of the prize-winning book Sharon and My Mother in Law (Feltrinelli 2003, Premio Viareggio, 2004). Amiry is the Vice President of Birzeit University’s Board of Trustees. She is a Board member for the Palestine Investment Fund, the Palestine Housing Council, and the Jury for The Palestine Award for Culture (headed by the late Mahmoud Darwish). Amiry was an influential member of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Talks in Washington (1991-1993). In 2004, Amiry received the prestigious Viareggio Literary Award in the international writing category in recognition of her architectural work and her novel Sharon and My Mother in Law. Suad Amiry attained a BSc from AUB, an MSc in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. She has taught at Birzeit University and the University of Jordan.

Ruba graduated from Birzeit University with a BSc in architecture in 2001. She began her career as an interior designer, and then worked for a private engineering company in Ramallah. She joined the conservation unit at RIWAQ in 2005 as a Project Coordinator. During the last seven years she supervised the implementation of several projects, namely the restoration of traditional buildings in different Palestinian villages in Ramallah, Nablus, and Hebron. She is interested in improving the quality control of design and the intricacy of architectural details.

Michel has a BSc in Architectural Engineering from Birzeit University (2005). He has worked in private engineering offices and as a freelance interior designer, and has been working as an architect/restorer at RIWAQ since 2008 on the conservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings and historic centers of rural Palestine. In 2011 he joined the 17th International Course on Stone Conservation (SC11) that took place in Rome. He is currently responsible for coordinating and implementing the rehabilitation of villages under the 50 village project, including Adh Dhahiriya and Yatta. Michel is interested in building materials, quality control, and design details.

Lana joined RIWAQ in 2007 and has worked on rehabilitation projects of historic centers in Palestinian villages, including Taybeh and ‘Abwein. She also worked on producing a manual for the rehabilitation of the old city of Ramallah. Lana earned a BSc in architectural engineering from Birzeit University in 2007 and attained an MA in architecture, cultural Identity and globalisation from the University of Westminster in 2010. She is interested in researching topics related to cultural identity (gender, ethnicity, power and cultural representation) and their relation to the spatial practices in the built environment, as well as exploring spatial and socio-cultural mapping through different media.

Renad attained her bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 2006. After several years of working between Chicago and Palestine, she joined RIWAQ in 2008. In 2010, she completed her master’s degree in bio-climatic architecture from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain. Renad returned to RIWAQ in early 2012, and has introduced the implementation of green concepts within RIWAQ’s conservation projects. Renad is interested in green architecture, and in providing RIWAQ with more environmentally green approaches to project design and implementation.

Shatha is an architect currently leading rehabilitation projects in historic centers in Palestinian villages as part of RIWAQ’s 50 Historic Centers Project. Shatha joined RIWAQ in 2008 after she received a BSc in architectural engineering from Birzeit University. Since then, she has taken part in different projects including the rehabilitation of Beit Iksa, Hajjah and Birzeit. She is interested in cultural landscape and community involvement.

Hana Alamuddin graduated from Greenwich University in the UK with a full professional degree, R.I.B.A 3, (with distinction). She then went on to do her Master of Science in Architectural Studies (SMArchS) in Designing for Islamic Societies at the Aga Khan Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T, USA). She is also a LEED Accredited Professional in Neighborhood Design. Hana Alamuddin started her practice in Lebanon in 1999. The practice, Almimariya, Architects and Designers for Sustainable Development, works on architectural, urban design and landscape projects within the perimeters of sustainable development and energy efficient construction. She has projects built in Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (see As a member of the executive committee of the Association Pour la Protection des Sites et Anciennes Demeurs, Liban (APSAD) from 1999 to 2008, she worked on several heritage preservation projects in Lebanon and published several articles and a children’s book on the built environment. Hana Alamuddin is also a senior lecturer at the American University of Beirut (AUB)and a board member of the Lebanon Green Building Council. She served as a technical reviewer for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for three consecutive cycles (1998, 2001, 2004).

Caecilia Pieri currently serves as Head of the Urban Observatory at the French Institute of the Near-East, Beirut, where she brings a comparative approach to the urban field of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern studies in the fields of urban history and urban anthropology, with a particular concern on issues such as cities in conflict and heritage as social marker and tool for politics. She received her PhD on the subject of the urban and architectural modernization of Baghdad, where she has been conducting field work for 11 years. An expert within the UNESCO committee for the safeguard of urban and architectural modern heritage in the Arab World, she is the author of Baghdad Renaissance, Contemporary Art in Iraq (2003), Baghdad Arts Deco, 1920-1950 (American University of Cairo Press, 2011), also translated into Arabic. Her forthcoming book is Baghdad 1914-1960, The Making of a Modern Capital (in French).

Yasmine Makaroun Bou Assaf graduated in architecture from the Institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University in Beirut in 1988. She completed her studies with a masters in management on archaeological sites and a PhD in archaeology in France. Since 1993, she has worked intensively on archeological excavations in Beirut and is in charge of the preservation of major sites in Lebanon (Byblos, Nahr El Kalb, Beit mery, Citadel of Tripoli). Her wide experience in archeological conservation has extended to historical monuments and cities in the MENA region. A consultant in built heritage, she practices her expertise with international institutions such as Iccrom and the World Bank. She teaches at the Center of Conservation and Restoration of the LU in Tripoli since its creation in 1997 and she is today the chairman of the department of architecture at the LU. In parallel she has a professional practice as freelancer in her own agency as designer and consultant in the field of architecture, heritage and cultural projects. She has many publications on archeological sites, vernacular architecture and heritage practices in Lebanon.