Untold Stories / Forgotten Maps

This competition emerged out of the work of the collective “Memory, Place, Heritage, Displacement” which I have co-directed together with Mada Saleh and Dima Dayoub between 2017 and 2019.


Since 2011, Syrian cities have been changing. Not only their physical environments, buildings and spaces became affected by war, but also stories of cities are being more and more forgotten.
This competition is an attempt to create bridges between seniors who lived in Syria between the 1960s and 1990s, and younger generations interested in architecture, urbanism, heritage and visualizations. The aim of the competition is to produce an illustration/map on A3 that visualizes the narratives, memories, and stories told by a senior or more (could be a relative or someone you know) such as: growing up in the city; how it was experienced and lived; how it changed over time; and what was its urban lifestyle and culture. One or more of these aspects should be expressed in the form of a map that sheds the light on parts of the city and its spaces and cultures that no longer exist, or threatened to disappear.

By doing so, we do not intend to romanticize the past, but to highlight urban diversities, lifestyles, and heritage that was experienced in Syria before the war. Producing these maps for the competition would be a mean to show the depth and richness of urban life in Syria beyond the current image of the city burden by war and destruction.

As mentioned earlier, each submission should narrate the memories of a senior citizen about a city or a village in which he/she lived. In this stage, teams should be able to document the stories (audio recording), and to draw together with the senior on a map in order for them to document and visualize the spatial dimensions of the story on a map. Participants are encouraged to experiment with different visualization techniques and expressions such as: hand drawing, black & white, sketching, collages, mixed media, comics, text, digital illustrations, scenes. However, participants should keep in mind the map as a basis for the production of the outcome.


  • Jury Members
    Aziz Hallaj (urban consultant), Hrair Sarkissian (artist), Rasha Chatta (social scientist), Nermin El-Sherif (map expert), Martin Gussone (archeologist)
  • Funding
    Gerda Henkel Stiftung
  • Year
  • The first winner entry mapping Ein Feit in the occupied Golan Heights by Iyas Shahin.
  • Second prize winner, mapping Sufism and urban dynamics in Old Damascus by Mais Kalthoum.
  • Honorable Mention for an entry mapping the graveyards of Homs by Nassouh Tulemat, Zena Tulemat, and Alia Mortada.
  • Honorary mention to mapping home from afar by Sammy Zarka.
  • The jury discussing the entries.
  • Competition poster (Design by me).