Diwan Al-Mimar
Building Cultures: Architecture and Crafts
Wesam Al Asali

Saturday 6 July 2024 | 6:30 PM | Beit Beiruti 

In architectural approaches that emphasize structural creativity, innovation is often limited to emerging technological possibilities. Progress in this context is typically measured by the number of available solutions, each becoming a mark of the designer’s individuality. This perspective overlooks the architectural practices in the Arab region, which have long relied on dealing with scarcity rather than abundance. These practices expand the knowledge base of how to build by engaging with local materials and crafts communities, equating technological and vernacular methods. Within this understanding, architectural practice transcends the conventional distinction between low-tech and high-tech approaches to sustainability and ecology.

This talk maps the relationship between architecture and construction cultures. It showcases projects and experiences developed through collaborations between designers and craftspeople, highlighting the role of documentation, dialogue, and co-production in integrating architecture and crafts.

The talk will be in Arabic. 

Wesam Al Asali (Syria-Spain) is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Materials and Methods at IE School of Architecture and Design in Spain. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2021 and was a 2021-2022 Global Fung Fellow at Princeton University. In 2010, Wesam co-founded IWlab, a research hub for cities, building cultures, and crafts in Syria and the Middle East. In 2020, he co-founded CERCAA, a social enterprise in Valencia, Spain, focused on teaching masonry vaults design and construction for architects and builders. Wesam is the winner of the 2021 Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) President’s Medal for Research. In 2024, IWlab was awarded the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.