Post-Traumatic Urbanism

University essay from KTH/Arkitektur

Abstract: Terrorism, conflict, and natural disasters. How can architecture respond to a world at odds with itself?On a daily basis we see tragic news about cities around the world that are undergoing trauma. We are exposed to horrific images of shattered buildings destroyed by terrorism, we see coastal areas damaged in floods and mudslides, we see the aftermath of cyclones outbreaks. Through modern technology we are all witnessing the immediate impact and destruction of these types of violent manmade and climatic events.The post-traumatic condition is no longer an exception; it is now the norm. While repair and reconstruction are automatic reflexes of trauma, the disciplines’ knowledge and practices must be imbued with a greater understanding of the impact of trauma on cities and their contingent realities.To be able to heal cities with architecture we must first understand the trauma in context, thus rethinking the role of architecture and urbanism in the modern world.Post-traumatic urbanism necessitates the mobilization of architects’ skills, criticality, and creativity in unfamiliar contexts, but above all, sensitivity.In my thesis I will study post-traumatic architecture and urbanism by using an example of the post-traumatic urban condition of the Halabja massacre, in Kurdistan, northern Iraq in the year 1998. I have chosen this specific trauma because of how it has personally affected me, my family and the city I grew up in. I want to impose my personal experiences with post-traumatic cities in this project while also taking into account other research and studies on the topic, allowing a nuanced perspective on the subject of Post-Traumatic Urbanism.

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