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ADS8: Data Matter – The Gaming Edition

Nour Al Ahmad

Nour is an MA Architecture graduate from The Royal College of Art. She completed a BSc in Architecture at The Bartlett UCL, prior to working in product design, interior design and architecture practices in London. 

Nour's current interests lie at the intersection of the physical and the digital. She is interested in the themes of heritage, memory and migration. Whilst studying with ADS8 (Led by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Kamil Hilmi Dalkir and Rhiarna Dhaliwal) Nour developed a keen interest in exploring the potential of gaming engines as testing grounds and a sites of experimentation in addressing geospatial and socio-cultural issues. Born and raised in Jordan to parents of Syrian and Turkish ethnic roots, Nour will continue to explore practices of urban inclusion, belonging, and how communities find 'home'.

In her first year at the RCA, Nour studied with ADS2 (led by David Knight, Diana Ibáñez López & Ahmed Belkhodja) which focused on pasts, presents and futures of UK National Park designations. Her project explored a remote island in the Western Hebrides, which was inhabited by only six residents. She received a Distinction in her thesis which explored the thresholds of the Green Line of Cyprus and how it has shaped life in the divided city of Nicosia.

Outside of architecture, Nour is an avid hillwalker and has a strong interest in island studies. As an Island Innovation Ambassador for England, her History and Theory Studies thesis explored the politics of distance and island governance in the Shetland Isles.

Project Statement

Memory Encoding is a spatial archive project which reconstructs and preserves memories of a country in turmoil. It follows the voices of individuals and their lived experiences in cities, streets and homes that are no longer accessible to them. Situated in both Damascus and London, the project narrates memories embedded within the domestic and urban conditions of these two cities simultaneously. It also explores the possibilities of collating pasts and presents simultaneously within a digital environment, and the role of temporality in memory displacement.

The process of memory storage and retrieval is not void of inconsistencies, errors or gaps in recollections. As a result, the human mind subconsciously fills the gaps with its own approximations of what may have happened, in a process called confabulation. Although this process creates memory errors, it also creates an opportunity for estimations and calculations to be made which contribute to actualising the memories. As a spatial practitioner, Nour utilises this key concept when translating authored experiences into a memory archive.

As a socio-spatial device, this project recognises how the migration of an individual is also the migration of their memories, and explores how the past events of one city are transposed to another. We often try to locate the past in material and spatial traces; we look at photo albums, hold onto objects, and tour the sites of past events. When this is not possible, this project allows for multitudes of spaces to resonate with one another solely through remembrance and reminiscence.

This project would not have been possible without the seven individuals, who wish to remain anonymous, and that have shared their memories and experiences of living in Syria.

Memory Scan 01: Souk Al Hamidiye — Film Timestamp 05:20
Memory Scan 02: Caravanserai: Khan Asad Pasha — Film Timestamp 05:50
Memory Scan 03: Afternoons at the Local Playground — Film Timestamp 01:47
Memory Scan 04: Ball on a Tyre — Film Timestamp 04:40
Memory Scan 05: Friday Market — Film Timestamp 05:30
Memory Scan 06: The Smell of Jasmine — Film Timestamp 02:15


Film Stills
Memory Reconstruction 01: Grandmother's Balcony — Film Timestamp 03:05
Memory Reconstruction 02: 'Our Kitchen' — Film Timestamp 00:49
Memory Reconstruction 03: Making Sweet Dumplings (Awameh) — Film Timestamp: 01:31
Memory Reconstruction 04: 'Our Neighbourhood' — Film Timestamp 04:18


Film Stills


Memory Encoding: Film

This visual production of memories uses a walkthrough narrative experience and is situated in a gaming environment. The porosity and imprecision of point cloud models, which portray locations in Damascus and London, are used to spatialise the memories.

The Aziz Foundation