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Architecture of the Territory: Constructing National Narratives in the Arab World


Co-published with Collective for Architecture


Architecture of the Territory examines the role that national narratives have in defining the Arab world through the use of architecture and urban planning. The book is a collection of 30 essays from various countries in the Arab world.

This territory, almost twice the size of the United States and home to 423,000,000 inhabitants, lacks sufficient and accessible research. In order to advance knowledge and critical thinking, this publication uncovers some of the mechanisms and narratives that have shaped the territory and its society. The selected essays, written by researchers and professionals, are the beginning of a dialog, touching on themes such as agricultural strategies, imported housing typologies, the issues inherited from colonial borders, and the effect of politics on infrastructure projects and cultural heritage. While critical contributions draw on local histories and context, they also run in parallel and contribute to the discourse on current global issues.

About the Authors

Faysal Tabbarah

Faysal Tabbarah is the Associate Dean and an Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah. He is also Co-founder of Architecture + Other Things, an architecture and design studio based in Sharjah. Tabbarah’s teaching and research interrogate the potential of activating Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) material and environmental practices to drive innovative contemporary design and building solutions by exploring context-driven modes of production, alternative material systems, and the relationship between environmental and architectural imaginaries. At AUS, Tabbarah teaches core and option design studios, seminars integrate issues of Orientalism and the built and natural environments, computational design seminars, and required structures courses.

Ahmed Al-Aqra

Ahmed Al-Aqra is an architect, artist, and researcher currently pursuing his doctoral studies at the Université de Paris after receiving his BA from Birzeit University and his MA from Edinburgh University in architecture and urbanism. He works on investigating and devising emancipatory spatial tools by tracing the daily life practices of the inhabitants in extraterritorial and extrajudicial geographies, using a multidisciplinary approach that combines art, philosophy, and architecture. Al-Aqra co-founded the Fana collective, which adopts the idea of deconstruction as a first step towards a more contextual cultural and spatial production. In addition, he has curated and co-curated several exhibitions in Palestine and abroad. His latest exhibition, People by the sea, was shown at the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit.

Asaiel Al Saeed

Asaiel Al Saeed is an architect who obtained her Bachelor of Architecture from Kuwait University in 2019. While working in various practices and projects in the realms of architecture and research, she taught undergraduate architecture and civil engineering at Kuwait University. In 2021, her independent research and initiative titled Agriculture as a Territorial Mark, which explores the urban development of the city of Jahra in relation to its agricultural heritage, was recognized for Excellence in Architecture, Planning & Housing by the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs. Al Saeed was appointed co-curator of Kuwait’s National Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2021, commissioned by the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL).

Ali Ismail Karimi

Ali Ismail Karimi is an architect whose work explores public space, ecology, and the extractive landscapes of the Middle East. He is the co-founder of Civil Architecture, an architecture office based in Manama and Kuwait City. Civil Architecture's work has been shown at the Sharjah Architecture Triennale, Oslo Triennale, Seoul Biennale, and Expo 2020. In 2016, alongside Hamed Bukhamseen, he curated the Kuwait Pavilion titled “Between East and West: A Gulf“ at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. He had previously worked in Belgium with OFFICE KGDVS, and in Chile with Alejandaro Aravena/Elemental, and taught at the University of Bahrain as an adjunct professor. His writings have been published in various media outlets including San Rocco, Architectural Review, and e-flux. Karimi earned his MArch from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and is currently a visiting critic at Rice School of Architecture.

Technical Details

Publication Date:
Saturday, January 28, 2023
16.5 x 23.5 cm
Number of Pages:
Kaph Books