مشاهد متغيرة Changing Landscapes

Marah Sharabati (مرح شرباتي)

Workshop: City production: between the usual and the exceptional- 2021

The natural environment has influenced the formation of the built environment since ancient times (As it is affected by its topography, natural resources). The built environment (in its construction and use) depends on the consumption of natural resources. It also constitutes 75% of the factors leading to the deterioration of the global natural environment.

Crises affect the natural and built environment with extraordinary transformations on many levels: physical, biological, chemical, social, structural. The recent conflict in Syria has affected both the natural and built environments with changes and damages. Understanding the factors that influence natural and built environment changes leads to understanding and avoiding many challenges at multiple levels to achieve reconstruction that adopts sustainable development and environmental, economic, and social justice for future generations. Ethical reconstruction stems from the conditions of the place, which respect its identity, environment, culture, and memory.

For this, I worked on documenting the damage caused to some of the factors affecting the formation of the natural environment (geomorphology) and the built environment (cities formation and urban expansion) as well as population, transportation, policies, land uses, water, infrastructure services, deforestation. Information about these conditions is either vague or inaccessible; my aim is to clarify the importance of each condition in the formation and the effects of its changes through graphical representation.

I used data from statistical tables available from the official government websites to create changing cartogram maps that visually narrate the story of Syrian geography before, during, and after the war. Each map deforms and conforms to its data and narrative.

Because the map is a visual language – it does not linearly display information but instead allows the integration of several levels of understanding. We can show the past, present, and future in one document together.

تؤثر البيئة الطبيعية في تشكيل البيئة المبنية منذ القدم – اذ تتأثر بالبنية الطبوغرافية، المصادر الطبيعية وتعتمد البيئة المبنية (في مراحل تشكلها واستخدامها) على استهلاك الموارد الطبيعية إذ يشكل قطاع البيئة المبنية 75% من العوامل المؤدية لتدهور البيئة الطبيعية العالمي. تؤثر الأزمات في البيئة الطبيعية والمبنية بتحولات استثنائية على مستويات عدة, فيزيائة, بيولوجية, كيميائية, اجتماعية, بنيوية وقد اثر الصراع الاخير في سوريا بتغيرات وأضرار على كلاً من البيئتين الطبيعية والمبنية. إن فهم العوامل المؤثرة بإحداث التغيرات على البيئة الطبيعية والمبنية يؤدي لتلافي العديد من التحديات القادمة على أصعدة متعددة تحديات تتمثل في أهمية تحقيق إعادة اعمار تتبنى تنمية مستدامة (بيئية – اقتصادية – اجتماعية) تضمن عدالة مستقبلية للأجيال القادمة في الوصول للموارد وأن تكون إعادة اعمار أخلاقية نابعة من ظروف المكان تحترم هويته وبيئته وثقافته وذاكرته وحضارته لتحقيق التطور الأمثل له وفهم هذه العوامل المؤثرة بإحداث التغيرات ينبع من فهم العوامل المشكلة لكل من البيئة الطبيعية والمبنية التغيرات التي طالت هذه العوامل وانعكاسها على البيئة المبنية والطبيعية

عملت على توثيق الضرر الحاصل على بعض من العوامل المؤثرة في تشكيل البيئة الطبيعية الجيومورفولوجي) والبيئة المبنية (تشكل المدن – التوسع الحضري): التعداد السكاني – النقل – السياسات – استخدامات الأرض – الماء – خدمات البنية التحتية – إزالة الغابات – الجغرافيا السياسية – المناخ. وإيضاح أهمية كل عامل في التشكيل والآثار المترتبة على تغيراته. وعلى إظهار المعلومات المتوفرة على شكل جداول إحصائية على الموقع الالكتروني للمصدر الحكومي ,نظراً لقلة المعلومات البصرية المتوفرة عن المنطقة. اعتمدت إظهار المعلومات بشكل مكاني على شكل خرائط كارتوغرام (تعرض المعلومات عبر متغير المساحة)

لأن الخريطة هي لغة بصرية – لاتعرض المعلومات بشكل خطي بل تسمح بدمج عدة مستويات من الفهم معاً   يمكننا عرض الماضي, الحاضر والمستقبل في عرض معا.


Population

Increasing population numbers affect urban expansion, increased consumption of environmental resources, increased environmental pollution, and climatic changes. Depopulation affects the services in the area and the quality of life.

A map showing the chnages of population in Syrian governates

Transportation

Transportation is one factor affecting the growth of cities and determining where cities will be placed, which affects both nature and climate.

A map showing the lengths of the road.

Environmental and Urban Policies

Geopolitics is a key factor that determines the prosperity or decline of the place, depending on its political situation. Political legislation affects the rise in housing prices. With the increase in demand, the increase in housing prices leads to the emergence of informal housing, spatial and social injustice, and the widening gap between economic and social classes.

A map showing the cost of housing implemented by the public sector

Land Uses

Changes in land use determine the region’s environmental and natural past and future. It also offers a glimps into the affect of development on the natural environment and how that contributes to the climatic changes.

A map showing the total area of invested and uninvested agricultural land.

Water

Water is an essential factor as it is the primary source of life. Due to conflicts or environmental changes, changes in water resources negatively affect the environment, quality of life, infrastructure services, agricultural services, industry, and economy.

A map showing the lengths of rivers and the area of lakes

Infrastructure and Services

Infrastructure is one of the main determinants of the quality of life in cities and rural areas. Natural and manmade damages on infrastructure affect the quality of life, population, the possibility of inhabitation, and development.

A map showing the production and consumption of drinking water.
A map showing the number of phone lines.
A map showing the number of primary schools
A map showing the number of health centers.

Deforestation

With their biological diversity, forests are important ecosystems to ensure biological and ecological balance. They are considered one of the most critical elements to fight climate warming, and they provide shelter for many villagers and wile animals and contribute to precipitation. Deforestation through fire or human agricultural activities negatively affects the ecological and climatic system of the region.

A map showing the forestry and forest area.

Analysis I: Maps Deconstruction

Maps Deconstruction.
Maps Deconstruction of inhuman regional scale, helps understanding the intersections of diverse information. In columns the different Syrian governates, in rows the different represented data. Red: Increase, Blue: Decrease, Black: Data note avialable.

Analysis II: Close-Ups

Despite the importance of Data in understanding parts of the whole picture remains limited in transferring many of the diverse stories carried in their folds. Therefore, I attach a set of satellite snapshots (Google Earth) that I observed to convey content and characteristics that numbers may not easily transfer.

Satellite observations help understand samples that underwent natural and morphological transformations during the war in Syria.

Rif Aleppo – Al Assad Lake (Al Raqqa) 2010-2020.
Context: 1- Decreasing the area of vegetation and agricultural cover. 2- Damages by the war. 3- Destruction of the water pumps carrying water from Al-Assad Lake to the agricultural lands and the city of Aleppo. 4- The decreased of water level of the Euphrates River and Al-Assad Lake.

Dier Al-Zour 2010- 2020.
Context: 1- Decreasing the area of vegetation and agricultural cover. 2- Damages to water pumps and canals in the Euphrates bed.

Al-Hasaka 2010- 2020.
Context: 1- land Damaging and burning due to the conflict. 2- Difficulty in accessing landowners to their lands. 3- High fuel prices.
 

Rif-Dimashq _ Al-Zabadani Plain 2010-2020.
Context: 1- Decreasing the area of vegetation and agricultural cover. 2- Damages to irrigation wells. 3- Farmers don’t have access to their land. 4- Fires. 5- Cutting down trees that are 60-100 years old.

Damascus 2010-2020.
Context: 1- Decreasing the area of vegetation and agricultural cover. 2- Urban Expansion. 3- Dry seasons have affected the rivers to not reach their mouths. 4- Damages due to the war. 5- Damages to the agricultural land and the inability of its owners to access it. 6- Damages to irrigation canals.

To have the porject in PDF format

Resources

The website of the Government’s Central Statistics Office on the Internet – Cbssyr.sy

The Need for an Ethical Framework for Arab Reconstruction – Nasser Rabbat.

Sustainable Construction and Development Course – Future Learn Platform.

Data visualization and information Design Course – Domestika Platform.

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