Official Omar Degan - AMA

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I have probably been called architect 10 times in 1 year , the rest of the time I have been called engineering. This is to say that we are not still used to call the architects for most of the work , I leave the daily struggle to change this . Somalia is professionally speaking not an easy place , my advice for you is to work before in other places around the world if possible and gain experience and then come back to provide a serous professional input . Then you’ll be able not only to support the reconstruction process but you’ll also be able to provide great professional inputs
You mention in your ted talk that you used to work in emergency architecture, was that a pathway that helped you prepare for work in somalia? What did that involve and did it prepare you for the stresses that comes with working in somalia? Also would you recommend others to do the same or is a regular architecture job good enough?
 

OfficialAMA

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Asc,

What inspired you to become an architecture? Who did you look upto in this field ? Favourite projects you have done and would like to do in future ?

Regarding the Somali government signing the UNESCO world heritage convention what would you like to see listed ?
All very good questions .
I don’t really know what inspired me , my grandma was used to be intersted in proprieties and housing I guess that everything started from there. My favorite architect is the “roobin hood “ of architecture the Egyptian Hassan Fathy . He spent his whole life dedicating to design and build houses for the poor with his own money taken earn from the projects for the rich. A symbol of what an architect should be for me. favorite project the school that I designed for my late sister Hodan Nalayeh AUN .
About the UNESCO, if none is taking care of the buildings there will be absolutely nothing to protect.
 

Hassan mahat

I karbash wahabist salafis daily.
Hello, Omar, considering Somalia’s security, Do you think, we will ever witness luxury houses and complexes Like in the west or Asia?
 

OfficialAMA

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You mention in your ted talk that you used to work in emergency architecture, was that a pathway that helped you prepare for work in somalia? What did that involve and did it prepare you for the stresses that comes with working in somalia? Also would you recommend others to do the same or is a regular architecture job good enough?
I had a master in architecture for sustainability and then I took a second one in emergency with the idea to have a better understanding of working on conflict areas or emergency contexts like natural disasters and refugee camp. I would largely recommend to study or work with an office that got projects in that sectors because it will helps you to learn more about a different way of doing architecture . If you can get a mentor , it’s important , I was used to have one .
 

OfficialAMA

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Salaan sare walaalkiis!

your humble opinion, do you think that we can accomplish building my dream beachside mansion, like this one.
View attachment 164961
Is it out of our reach due to the fact that we don’t have the material and to import it will cost anyone an arm and a leg

Secondly, is it even worth building magnificent structures if there’s no infrastructure to speak of?
It is possible to build something that can give you this feeling in Somalia, it's not easy but it is definitely possible. We can accomplish a lot in Somalia, it is just a matter of time and mutual collaboration. Building beautiful infrastructures in somalia it is definitely worthy, it inspire the people to do better and became better.
 

Mozart

Price of the brick going UP
Hi Omar ,

Is there work being done at government level to plan how certain areas will look ? For example, an area with certain colours only or narrow streets with certain buildings and palms trees or is it free for all and anyone can build as they wish with no overall goal ? I think an idea similar to Chefchaouen in Morocco would be smart.
 

OfficialAMA

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Welcome Omar. My questions for you are how have you incorporated local materials into your projects and what are some examples of uniquely Somali architecture?
I always try to incorporate in my design local traditions and materials . At least as much as i can.

About the architecture itself it depends on what do you want to see. If i wanted to make everyone happy and relaxed i would say the Somali Aqal. Otherwise i will quote the Old somali national Museum , or the castle of Eyl or the houses of Barawe. They are all part of the somali history , one way or another.
 

OfficialAMA

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Hi Omar ,

Is there work being done at government level to plan how certain areas will look ? For example, an area with certain colours only or narrow streets with certain buildings and palms trees or is it free for all and anyone can build as they wish with no overall goal ? I think an idea similar to Chefchaouen in Morocco would be smart.
Beautiful question with a sad answer. NO.

There are many regulations but no one enforce them. For example in the historical center you can't build in certain areas or using certain colors or material.

There is sadly not enough power to empower the laws and also the problems are different and this is not a priority not only for the government but also for the people themself.
 

OfficialAMA

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Salam calaykum Omar,
Which role should public spaces/buildings have in Somali reconciliation? We have statues honoring prominent figures and organizations (the Sayid, Imam Gurey, Hawo Taako, SYL). Do you think the wider public would welcome a civil war memorial?
Do you have any concrete ideas for such a memorial (buildings, parks etc.) to commemorate the lives lost and educate current as well as future generations?
A very delicate question.
Building a memorial implicate the fact that the event is now part of the past .
But about somalia is it really like that ? i read often comments and discussions that are still far from being peaceful or intellectually good and this is happens in Somalia as much as in the west.
I honestly don't think that is still the time for a civil war memorial.
 

OfficialAMA

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Asc Omar,

Is it possible to reconstruct Somali architecture from the past into modern world?
What challenges is there in redesigning existing homes in Somalia, especially ones in less urban areas?
What is the most effective and inexpensive way to innovate Somali homes?
We can certainly renovate most of them and add a bit of contemporary style into them. Those houses of 1970/80 are way better designed of 99% of the one built today in Somalia.
The most effective and inexpensive way is to pay a professional that can helps you to save money , sadly too many people think that saving few thousand on the salary of a professional is no wise while in reality is exactly the opposite.
 

OfficialAMA

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Hi, Omar

I was wondering if there is was ever any distinctive and original architecture in our country and wasn't inspired by other civilizations and is solely ours ? Is it possible we can achieve one if there is none in the near future?
Yes there was , as i mentioned in other comments i think that the nomadic and settled architecture of somalia are a very interesting example of unique somali architecture
 

Asli

love is in the air, come sniff with me
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Good morning! Just wondering, how will the locals be affected by tall buildings and fancy houses? Will you guys work on affordable projects? Because these houses look like it’s catered to the diaspora
 

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we will be ending the AMA here. i would like to thank our guest Omar Degan for joining us today and wish him luck in his future endeavours.
 
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