Sawruk, Theodore. "Reconstructing Afghanistan: An Architecture Curriculum for a ‘New Way of Life’." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 2, Number 2 (pp. 371-395), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2013.
Afghanistan is a country rich in culture and history, but also one devastated by decades of war. The destruction extends beyond cities to include the social, economic and educational constructs of life. In 2008, the University of Hartford was awarded a $1.33 million grant to help re-establish the engineering facilities at Herat University. The grant mission also facilitated the creation of a new achitectural programme to address the growing needs of contemporary Afghanistan. Over the next three years, scholars worked to forge an innovative curriculum, one that melds the historic traditions of a centuries-old city with the contemporary needs of a western-style Islamic society. When the ideally conceived curriculum was finally taken to Herat University for approval and implementation, a new and harsher reality emerged. This article chronicles the events that reshaped the proposed curriculum. It relays how the current state of the profession, cultural traditions, gender bias and economic realities came to bear on the development of this new programme, and how western preconceptions were revised by local realities. Finally, it documents how the melding of these realities supplanted initial utopian agendas in the creation of a more viable, integrated curriculum that supports an evolving, unique and contemporary architectural identity.
Keywords: Afghan women; Afghanistan; University of Herat; architectural education; architecture curriculum; female architects