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Lebanese Canadian architect Samir Nicolas Saddi embarks on the reconstruction of the Arab world

If this renowned Lebanese Canadian architect already has a few victories to his credit, he does not intend to stop there. After winning fifth place in the international UNESCO competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Al-Nouri Mosque in Mosul, Samir Nicolas Saddi has many projects to rehabilitate the heritage of the Arab world.

A profession at the service of the protection of Arab heritage 

The Lebanese-Canadian artist born in Beirut is committed to devote his life to realize the fragility of the traditional environment in the Middle East and to propose innovative approaches to sustainable architecture. “I am very concerned about how to rebuild the Arab world, especially countries that have been devastated by war,” he says…

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This cause, it is since the end of his studies that he took it upon himself. Samir Nicolas Saddia finished his architectural studies in 1974. At the time, it looked like the country was heading for a fruitful and prosperous era, and Saddi was already working with a major architectural firm on projects to be developed over the next ten years. But all that came to an abrupt halt when the country’s devastating civil war broke out in 1975. “At first we thought it would only last a few months, and then it lasted 19 year,” he explains.

For Saddi, documenting historic or traditional architecture was crucial in a world that moves so fast and where time seems to run out for these places.

Creating a research center for architecture and environmental design 

This is how the architect set up ARCADE, a research center for architecture and construction of a sustainable environment. 

The main idea behind this agency is to “document these places because, at least, if you have documentation, you can photograph urban architecture, and later develop a lot of research that will consolidate modern contemporary architecture and projects.”

Rehabilitating weakened or devastated areas, the goal of a lifetime 

Mr. Saddi mentions many other cities in the Arab world that he considers crucial to rehabilitate so that people will remember them and recognize them as symbols of the rich urban architecture they comprise.

Ultimately, his goal is to show the world the unique heritage of the Middle East, while making the younger generation of architects and urban planners in the Arab world understand how crucial it is to develop their architecture based on their heritage.

We must not copy” he said.It’s about going further, really connecting to that heritage and perpetuating its spirit, like what’s happening in Mosul.”

For Saddi, such projects are not about simply recreating the past, but rather introducing a new spirit in connection with the past. “That’s my hope – that somehow we can achieve that through publications and workshops...”

A nice promise for the Eastern architectural future… 

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Published on 2 June 2021