Experiences of war and peace in public spaces—Aleppo city case study

Ghada Rifai, Seyda Emekci

Article ID: 2789
Vol 8, Issue 3, 2024

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Urban public spaces are the interface of any city that could tell about the city’s dynamic and status quo. In addition, Urban public spaces play a pivotal role in shaping societies’ dynamics and can significantly affect conflict and peacebuilding initiatives. In a context marked by Conflict’s profound impact, this article aims to contribute to the knowledge base for informed urban interventions that foster positive interactions and reconciliation in post-conflict cities. The article seeks to explore the intricate relationship between urban spaces and their influence on war or to promote sustainable peacebuilding through investigating the various roles of the urban public spaces during the war and peacetimes via residents’ experiences of the diverse spaces’ functions that shaped the city’s status quo. In addition, considering the interplay of social dynamics, conflict history, and the mental spatial map of cities in public urban spaces can influence lasting peace or upcoming conflicts. This article focuses on Aleppo as a case study, understanding the positive and negative experiences from the residents’ perspective before and during the current war in Syria, and even distinguishes between two periods during the recent war, which are the active violence and after the end of the direct active violence, where it could inform the decision-makers and urban planners on the areas of focus while developing post-war urban public spaces to ensure its positive role in fostering peace and be able to deal with the social dynamic and the mental spatial map that developed along with the conflict history. The paper utilised a mixed-methods approach, encompassing a case study review of Aleppo City from an urban perspective and fieldwork involving focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with Aleppian from different backgrounds and geographic areas that represent the social dynamic of the city, as well as approached Aleppian who are still in living in the city and those who flee out of it to ensure the coverage of different political direction in addition field work engaged with academia and technical from the city who shared their knowledge and experiences working in the city. Participants were prompted to reflect on their pre-war familiarity with public places and share their experiences. These experiences were categorized by enabling a comprehensive understanding of how conflict context influenced these spaces. The article results offer an understanding of the peace-guiding functions of the urban public spaces based on the city residents’ experiences that could inform architects and urban planners in designing spaces conducive to sustainable peacebuilding. The article’s findings underscore the importance of strategically designed urban public spaces in promoting peace and social cohesion.


peacebuilding; war and conflict; public spaces; urban planning

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.24294/jipd.v8i3.2789


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