Habitat Unit

Researcher & Doctoral Candidate

Ayham Dalal

Ayham Dalal


Room A 409
T + 49 – 30 – 314 –  75605/422588
F + 49 – 30 – 314 – 21907

Curriculum Vitae

Ayham Dalal works as a Research Assistant at Habitat Unit (since January 2018) and is completing his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz (since October 2015).

In his research, Ayham focuses on urban space, informality, resilience, culture, power dynamics, and identity politics. In particular, he is interested in the socio- spatial practices and transformations of space and how they can be mapped and visualized through mixed media and illustration techniques. His research is driven by strong interest in ethnography, anthropology, cultural studies and urbanization theories and how they can be linked to architectural design and contemporary urban practices. Currently Ayham is co-leading and researching the project 'Architecture of Asylum' which compares the socio-spatial practices of refugees in Jordan and Germany, funded by the SFB initiative (DFG). He is also a principal investigator for the art-research initiative 'Tracing and Assessing Syrian Urban Heritage in Exile' which has been grounded in 2017 and is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Working with a team of artists and researchers, the initiative explores the intersections between memory, heritage, place and displacement among Syrian refugees in Germany, Lebanon and Jordan.

In his PhD 'Reading the Urban Morphology of Zaatari Camp: Representations of Home, Culture and the Social Structuring of Space', Ayham looks at the intersections between the production of space, home, identity and the refugee camp. From the macro to the micro, he utilizes ethnographic observations, co- mappings, narratives, 3D modeling and detailed architectural drawings to explain processes ranging from camps production and planning, to spatial transformation, social grouping, and the representations of identity, home-making and the social coding of space. He has co-curated a touring exhibition under the 'The Durable Ephemeral: When the Temporary Settles' with the support of the French Institute in the Near East (Ifpo) in which Ayham is a fellow researcher.

Before joining the Habitat Unit, Ayham studied architecture in Syria and graduated with excellence from the double master degree at Ain Shams University (Cairo) and Stuttgart University in 2014. Between 2015 and 2017 he has taught at TU Berlin and the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and worked as consultant for the UK Prince's Charity (Turquoise Mountain). In parallel to research, Ayham practices art, graphic design and music production.


Since 2015
Doctoral Dissertation, TU Berlin
(Working Title) Between Humanitarian and Socio-Cultural Order: Understanding the Conflicts and Potentials Emerging from Refugee Camps Urbanisation. (Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz).

2012 - 2014
Master of Science in Integrated Urbanisma and Sustainable Design (M. Sc.), Stuttgart University and Aim Shams University,
(Thesis) Camp Cities between Planning and Practice: Mapping the Urbanisation of Zaatari Camp. (Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Nina Gribat, Prof. Dr. Mohamed Salheen, Dr. Yehya Serag, M. Arch. Omar Aziz Hallaj).

2005 - 2011
Bachelor in Architectural Engineering (BA), Al-Bath University, Syria
(Thesis) Planning and Designing the Campus of Tartous University in Syria.

Employment history+

since 2018
Researcher at 'Architecture of Asylum'
Habitat Unit, TU Berlin

Turquoise Mountain (UK Prince's Charity Organization for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage), Jordan

2016 – 2017
Lecturer and Teaching Assistant
Habitat Unit, TU Berlin

Teaching Assistant
Urban Planning Studio, GUtech Oman 

2011 – 2012
Ai-Jidar Architects, Jordan

Architect and Urban Planner
PRP|Architects International

2007 – 2010
Jalal Msaddi Studio, Homs, Syria


Refereed Articles 

(2018) Tracing the Production of Syrian Refugee Camps in Jordan: From Abstracted Theories to Contextualized Spaces, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development (under review).

(2017) Uncovering Culture and Identity in Refugee Camps, Humanities, 6(3), 61.

(2015) Between Space and Politics: Problematizing Governance in Zaatari Camp in Northern Jordan, Idafat Journal (Arab Journal of Sociology), Vol. 31/32, p. 118-133. [Text in Arabic].

(2015) A Socio-Economic Perspective on the Urbanisation of Zaatari Camp inJordan, Migration Letters, Vol. 12, No. 3, p. 263-278.


Other articles and publications

with Philipp Misselwitz (2017) Architecture of Asylum as Spaces of Negotiation: Camp Cities between Universal Humanitarian Order and Local Agency' [In German], ARCH+, 230, 32-41.

(2017) 'Assessment on Craftsmanship and Syrian Cultural Heritage in Azraq Camp; Turquoise Mountain (Report).

(2016) 'Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Challenges, Potentials and the Right to the Urban, Amnesty International.

(2016) Responding to the Refugees, 'Design' Design Crisis, XXI, 2016.

(2016) Zaatari, Stadt Aspekte, Vol. 4, p. 10-13.

(2015) Between Space and Politics: The Problematization of Governance in Zaatari Camp in Northern Jordan, Idafat Journal (Arab Journal of Sociology), Vol. 31/32, p. 118-133. [Text in Arabic].

(2015) A Socio-Economic Perspective on the Urbanisation of Zaatari Camp in Jordan, Migration Letters, Vol. 12, No. 3, p. 263-278.

(2015) The Emergence of Habitat in Zaatari Camp in Jordan: Between Humanitarian and Socio-Cultural Order, Trialog, Vol. 112/113, p. 43-58.

(2014) The Emergence of Habitat in Zaatari Camp: Between Humanitarian and Socio-Cultural Order, IUSD Journal, Cairo, Ain Shams University.

Dalal, A. et al (2013) Negotiating the Future: Observations and Visions of Urban Phenomena in Djerba, IUSD Publications, Cairo, Ain Shams University.


Conference papers

(2018) The Planning of Refugee Camps as a Form of Housing, Forced Migrations in Jordan and the Middle East, The French Institute for Research in the Near East (Ifpo), Amman.

(2017) The Production of Syrian Refugee Camps in Jordan, Pluralism in Emergenc(i)es: Movement, Space, and Religious Difference, Columbia University (Global Centers), Amman.

(2017) From Shelters to Homes: On the Political Economy, Architecture and Culture of the Home-Making in Zaatari Camp, Pluralism in Emergenc(i)es: Movement, Space, and Religious Difference, Columbia University (Global Centers), Amman.

(2017) Tracing Camps Production in Jordan, Spaces of Refuge: Infrastructures, Sovereignties, Economies, Tampere University, Finland.

(2017) Reading the Urban Morphology of Zaatari Camp, LAJEH Conference, The French Institute for Research in the Near East (Ifpo), Amman.

(2016) Urban Informality and Refugee Camps in the Middle East, De-framing the Mediterranean from the 21 st Century: Places, Routes, Actors, Forum Transregionale Studien (EUME), Crete.

(2016) Tracing the Urbanization of Syrian Refugee Camps in Jordan, Royal Geographical Society; IBG Annual Conference 2016, London.

(2015) The Phantom of Camps: Beyond the Political (Im-) Possibility of Zaatari Camp in Jordan, International Conference for Critical Geography ICCG, Ramallah.


Invited Lectures+

(2018) We Refugees, We Architects: Zaatari Camp between Humanitarianism, Transnationalism and Local Social Agendas, City Debates (Architecture-as- Urbanism: Agenda for the New Millennium), American University of Beirut, Beirut. 

(2018) The Refugee as Architect, Architecture of Camps (Course at the Masters of International Development Studies), Tampere University, Finland.

(2018) Caravanized Urbanism: Territoriality, Morphology and the Social Structuring of Space in Zaatari Camp, Navigating Displacement and Humanitarian Responses: Discourses and Experiences of Syrian Refugees and Aid Providers in Jordan, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam.

with Kamel Doraï (2017) Syrian Camps in Jordan, Refugee Camps Today: When the Temporary Settles Over Time (Round Table), The French Institute of Jordan (IFJ) and the French Institute of Research in the Near East (Ifpo), Amman.

(2017) What is a Refugee Camp?, Le Nuit des Idees (Round Table), The French Institute in Jordan (IFJ) and the French Institute for Research in the Near East (Ifpo), Amman.

(2016) Tracing the Urbanization of Syrian Refugee Camps in Jordan, Royal Geographical Society, IBG Annual Conference, London.

(2015) The Phantom of Camps: Beyond the Political (Im-) Possibility of Zaatari Camp in Jordan, International Conference for Critical Geography ICCG, Ramallah.

(2016) Jordan: Refuge of Camps and Informal Cities, W3 – Werkstatt für Internationale Politik und Kultur, Hamburg.

(2016) Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Potentials, Challenges, and the Right to the Urban, International Community and Refugees Conference, Amnesty International & Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Istanbul.

(2016) Reflections on Displacement and Urbanism: The Case of Zaatari Camp, Urban Seminar Series, Zentrum Moderne Orient (ZMO), Berlin.

(2016) Beyond Camp-Cities: Learning from the Urbanization of the Syrian Refugee Camp 'Zaatari' in Jordan, Urban Talk Series 011, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin.

(2015) On the Urbanisation of Zaatari Camp in Jordan, UPAD Lecture Series 07, Muscat.

(2014) Planning Zaatari Camp, Innovation and Planning Agency (IPA) grounding workshop,

Grants, Awards and Fellowships+

2017 – 2018
Full grant for the art-research project 'Tracing and Assessing Syrian Urban Heritage in Exile' (Mare Nostrum) with Mada Saleh
Gerda Henkel Stiftung

2017 – 2018
Research Fellow
The French Institute for Research in the Near Orient (Ifpo)

Finalist for the international design competition 'Place and Displacement: A Marketplace in Refugee Settlements' with Nuha Innab
International Development in Action (IDeA)

2015 – 2018
Stipend for academic research (Leadership for Syria)
Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD)

Stipend for free waiver from Antipode Magazine (US)
International Conference for Critical Geography (ICCG), Ramallah.

2012 – 2014
Stipend for academic study at the double master degree 'Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design' (IUSD) between Stuttgart University and Ain Shams University
Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD)

Third Prize in the international competition for students in the Mediterranean region and Europe 'Sham Spiritual Oasis' with Somar Taifor COSV (Italy) and Deir Mar Musa (Syria).

Professional and Academic Affiliations+

Since 2016:
Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO Amman) - LAJEH Project

Since 2014
Member in Freunde der Altstadt von Aleppo e.V. Stuttgart, Germany

Since 2011
Full membership in the Jordanian Engineers Association (JEA)

Since 2011
Associate membership in the Jordan Green Buildings Council (Jordan GBC)