Ammar Azzouz is a Research Associate at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, and a Lecturer in Heritage Studies, at the School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex. He studied architecture in Homs, Syria, before moving to the UK to complete his PhD at the University of Bath. He is an editor at Arab Urbanism, and a collective member of City Journal. Ammar has written several articles on Syria including A tale of a Syrian city at war, ‘I can smell Aleppo’, and 2011: Reflections on a ruined homeland. Between 2017 and 2022, he worked at Arup, London, on different projects related to inclusive environment, migration and cities, and urban violence. In 2020, he released several films on these themes including Questions of Memory and War and Cities Don’t Lie. He is the author of Domicide: Architecture, War and the Destruction of Home in Syria (Bloomsbury, 2023).
Ammar’s research interests include the destruction and reconstruction of history, culture and the built environment in times of conflict, with a particular focus on the ongoing crisis in Syria since 2011. Bringing together architecture, history, anthropology and urban studies, he focuses on how the city’s destruction and reconstruction can be deliberately used to punish both political opponents and local populations. On the one hand, urbicide – the premeditated destruction of a city – punishes people by erasing their environment, memory and collective identity. On the other hand, the reconstruction of a city can also become part of a collective and individual punishment through promoting human rights violations, new cycles of destruction and displacement, the whitewashing of property relations, and prohibiting certain communities to mourn and grief.
Ammar has published widely in major academic urban studies journals and also in other platforms including newspapers. Ammar has written for the Independent, the Conversation, New Statesman, and LSE Middle East Blog. His work was Shortlisted for Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Research Awards in 2018 and was exhibited in 2019 at the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition ‘What Remains’ in London. He was interviewed by the BBC, and the ABC, and was invited to speak at different panels including Cheltenham Literature Festival and the V&A. He was also invited to present his research at different universities including Manchester, MIT, Oxford, Essex, Architecture Association, Bath, Southampton, Cambridge and LSE. In September 2019, his conference paper, co-authored with a lecturer based in Syria, was awarded the best international paper by Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) - title: Young Syrian Architects (YSA) at the time of crisis.