Architectural Profanations

DAAR, Burning the facade of the former entity of colonization of Sicilian latifundium in Borgo Rizza, Sicily. Photo: Rehaf Batniji

One of our goals at Borgo Rizza is to de-normalize its fascist architecture; to critically reflect on the very fact that this architecture was not demolished. Today, most of it is actually in need of restoration. And it’s almost 100 years old, so technically, it’s about to officially become Italian heritage. The trick that architectural historians have used to evade problematizing this difficult heritage has been to separate its formal aspects from its political, social, and environmental motivations. With our interventions at Borgo Rizza, we’re attempting to reconnect this architecture to the historical moment when it was produced, but also to reintroduce it into the present. At a time in which migrant populations continue to arrive in Sicily from former colonies (Libya, Eritrea, and Ethiopia), it is necessary to ask, who has the right to use this colonial–fascist architecture?



DAAR lecture and assembly in Milano, May 25 – 2024


In support of the student movement for the liberation of Palestine and the reclamation of spaces for critical conversations and actions on university campuses, DAAR will visit the encampment at the Politecnico di Milano for an open discussion on the role of education in the struggle for justice and equality. This event will take place at 10:00 AM at the Leonardo Campus.

As part of Milano Arch Week 2024, DAAR will present a lecture on “Decolonizing Architecture” at the Milano Triennale at 6:00 PM.


Annual Gathering at the Entity of Decolonization in Sicily

Borgo Rizza, Carlentini (SR), Sicily
May 6–10, 2024

Following on from the previous two editions of the Difficult Heritage Summer School  in May 2024 the annual gathering will encompass a week-long intensive program consisting of collective learning, interventions, and performances, rooted in the three core branches of the Entity of Decolonization: 

  1. Pedagogy
  2. Art and Architecture 
  3. Commoning

This year the hosting institutions are the Municipality of Carlentini, the DAAS program at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, IASPIS (the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Arts), DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Research), and Museo delle Civiltà in Rome. 


The Difficult Heritage Summer School III: Under Repair is jointly organized by DAAS, the School of Architecture at the RCA and IASPIS. Taking place in Borgo Rizza, the event questions and mobilizes the notion of repair around the possible reuse of buildings, monuments and environments affected by modern/colonial violence and exclusion. To do so, the School invites participants to discuss new approaches in architecture, design and preservation through the lenses of racial, social and environmental justice. 


 A series of artistic and architectural interventions will animate the proceedings, culminating in the bonfire of the art installation “Ente di Decolonizzazione: Borgo Rizza” by DAAR (which was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale). The public performance is a ritual to liberate the Entity of Decolonization from its fascist ghosts, and to begin a new chapter for the realization of a “decolonial house” in the vicinity of Borgo Rizza


“Casa Decoloniale” is a long-term experiment to cultivate forms of commoning that transcend conventional notions of “public” and “private”, “host” and “guest”, “local” and “foreigner”. Linked to other commoning projects initiated in Puglia (Campo Paradiso), Sweden (Summer House), and Palestine (Jericho), Casa Decoloniale is poised to materialize in the Carlentini territory in the forthcoming years.

Assembly at the Entity of Decolonization in Sicily, May 2024. photo Fabian Konokpa

We want to acknowledge that this gathering is happening at very difficult times. We find ourselves in an unprecedented assault on Palestinians, marked by a highly dangerous escalation led by the US government, coupled with a suppression of critical voices in Western institutions. We are entering one of the most obscure chapters of Western history. Spaces for critical conversations are closing down; we see the annual gathering as an alternative platform to continue our conversations and actions elsewhere.


Exhibition as Site of Transgression

For the inaugural issue of MMD, Journal of Museum Studies, DAAR reflected on the role that exhibitions have played in their practice. Special thanks to Anna Rossellini and Alessandro Paolo Lena for their engaged questions and careful editing of the conversation.

Exhibited Thoughts of Architecture, Edited by Anna Rossellini, MM Journal of Museum Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1 – 2024, pp. 097-115, “Exhibition as Site of Transgression: An Interview with Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti (DAAR – Decolonizing Architecture Art Research)” by Alessandro Paolo Lena

Exhibition as Site of Transgression, an Interview with Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti (DAAR – Decolonizing Architecture Art Research) by Alessandro Paolo Lena

Journal of Museum Studies 

Join for Coffee: We Need to Talk

On the occasion of “When Solidarity Is Not a Metaphor“, held during the pre-opening of the 60th Venice Biennale, for three days DAAR will host informal morning gatherings to collectively reflect on the implications of the devastating assault on Palestine and suppression of critical voices in Western institutions. Welcoming guests with a cup of coffee and tea, these morning gatherings are open to all those who feel the urgency to build new alliances among various struggles worldwide, opposing the normalization of permanent war.
April, 16,17,18, from 9am to 11am, Fondamenta Arsenale, Venice

Commoning the Private. Lectures in Paris and Tirana

April 2, 13:00 – 2024
École d’architecture
de la ville & des territoires
12 av. Blaise Pascal
77420 Champs sur Marne
Paris, France

April 4, 19:00 – 2024
Boulevard Art and Media Institute
at Destil Creative Garden
Bulevardi Zogu Pare 1001
Tirana, Albania

Over the last years, DAAR has started a series of experiments on commoning from the private. The practice of commoning should not be perceived as a static intermediary category between the private and the public; rather, it is an action, and living process. Commoning, as a verb, embodies a collective practice catalyzed by the agency and creativity of individuals, emerging from both public and private domains. In Western political thought, a distinct divide exists between the public, historically dominated by men, and the private, traditionally relegated to women for domestic unpaid work. Drawing inspiration from feminist emancipatory practices of commoning within the private space of the household and the Arabic notion of Al Masha, historically referring to undivided common land among farmers, we have initiated experiments in commoning as a form of collective inhabitation and sharing rooted in the private realm—the intimacy and emotional landscape of the house.

Our discussion will commence by reflecting on the very name of our practice, DAAR, which means “home” in Arabic and stands for “Decolonizing Architecture Art and Residency” in English. From its inception, we transformed our family home into a space of collective cohabitation for resident artists, architects, and activists interested in exploring the nexus between architecture and politics. Situated in Beit Sahour, Palestine, our home, DAAR, has evolved into the focal point of an extended community of people offering emotional and intellectual infrastructure to navigate life under Israel’s colonization, occupation, and apartheid. Moving on, we will examine Palestinian refugee camps as spaces of commoning and collective inhabitation—an urbanity of exile constructed beyond the dichotomy of the private and the public. We will explore how refugees have redefined the refugee camp from a mere humanitarian space into a political arena with distinctive spatial and political structures. In the latter part of the discussion, we will shift our focus to Europe and showcase recent interventions in the north of Sweden, where newly arrived refugees settle and reclaim the right to be hosts rather than eternal guests. The talk will conclude by sharing insights into two ongoing, unfinished projects in southern Italy. In Diso, Puglia, the practice of commoning takes the form of shared land, while in Borgo Rizza, Sicily, Italy, it manifests in the former entity of the colonization of Sicilian latifundium.

Refugee Heritage, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture, March 19, 17:00 via Zoom

80% of Gaza´s population are refugees, their villages of origin are located just a few kilometers away. The Nakba, the expulsion of 2/3 of the Palestinian population in 1948 is an ongoing event of displacement. As its physical expression and material evidence, Palestinian Refugee Camps represent the suffering of millions of Palestinians. In a moment in history in which the population in Gaza is being either killed or expelled and homes being demolished, the right of return and Palestinian refugee camps remain a fundamental issue undermining peace between states, cultures, and religions.  The camp itself is the materialization of a crime and is in itself a question that calls for justice, land restitution and a change of power relations.

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Before we begin, we would like to acknowledge our hesitation in engaging in this conversation tonight. The current repression in Palestine makes everything seem wrong and inappropriate. However, after discussions with numerous friends and colleagues at Columbia, we’ve decided to proceed to honor the struggles of individuals and groups against occupation, colonialism, and apartheid in Palestine.

We find ourselves in an unprecedented assault on Palestinians, marked by a highly dangerous escalation led by the USA government, coupled with a suppression of critical voices in Western institutions. Prior to our talk tonight, we were advised to avoid using terms like “ceasefire” or “peace” as they are considered controversial. The term “decolonization”, the title of tonight’s gathering is even banned on some social media platforms, curricula, and cultural institutions.

Columbia GSAPP Affirmations: Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, and Denise Ferreira da Silva

Destruction and Reconstruction

In 2019, DAAR and Studioazue in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza, rehabilitated the 386 residential units that were partially damaged during the wars, constructed 207 additional housing units, and regenerated urban infrastructures and open spaces. Over the last weeks, Al Nada Neighborhood has been destroyed by the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Reinabiting the ruins. Architecture of Repair.

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