Rebuilding Somalia’s Ruined Cities. Dib-udhiska magaalooyinkii burburay ee Soomaaliya

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Rebuilding Somalia’s Ruined Cities. Dib-udhiska magaalooyinkii burburay ee Soomaaliya

February 25, 2019| Arlaadi Online

Rebuilding Somalia’s Ruined Cities, Café. Image Courtesy of Design Indaba

Rebuilding lives also means rebuilding living spaces, and this is where Italian-born architect, Omar Degan, comes in.

“I feel that architecture and design play a key role in developing countries, but in particular post-conflict countries,” says Degan.

Panoramic view of Mogadishu. Image Courtesy of Design Indaba

Panoramic view of Mogadishu. Image Courtesy of Design Indaba

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Public spaces mean different things in different countries. It has always been a powerful tool for social inclusion and is often taken for granted in developed countries, where parks and open spaces have made up the fabric of many urban environments for centuries.

Public space in itself can become a vital tool in the redevelopment of nations, particularly nations with a history of ruinous conflicts, such as the African country of Somalia. The country has been scarred by civil war and factional in-fighting, the aftermath of which persists to this day.

“I am confident that the proliferation of public space in this country is a major step towards its peace-building efforts, and a means to heal the scars of its turbulent past,” says Degan.

New Houses Waberi District Mogadishu. Image Courtesy of Design IndabaNew Houses Waberi District Mogadishu. Image Courtesy of Design Indaba

A Desire to Connect with Home

Born, raised and educated in Italy, Degan visited Somalia for the first time in October 2017. He felt a strong connection with the country, and with his education and training in emergency architecture, he felt that Somalia could make good use of the skills he had honed over the years.

Degan previously worked on slum upgrade projects in Buenos Aires and Hong Kong. Here he learned first-hand the importance of participatory planning (involving the community in discussions), environmental considerations and the using of local materials in rebuilding projects. Degan was inspired by the complex facets that accompanied this process.

“I chose Mogadishu for many different reasons, including the fact that it was probably one of the most developed cities in Africa before the civil war as well as during the 60s and 70s. It was this amazing city with amazing pieces of architecture, which have unfortunately all been destroyed.”

In his first three months in Somalia’s capital, he began work on a mosque and a school, which are both now near completion. He also used this time to conduct research and do a thorough assessment of the city’s needs and limitations. Read more Rebuilding Somalia’s Ruined Cities

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