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I am an architect with academic and professional experience in architectural conservation and heritage management. I hold a B.Arch. from the University of Damascus, then had worked in my capacity as an architect on several design projects and modern interventions within the Historic built environment in Damascus, Homs, and Cairo.

I had then moved to the UK completing an MSc in Architectural conservation, and PhD in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. Since then, I have been actively involved in various heritage projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region focusing on documenting and managing heritage sites and the built environment, assessing damage and values, empowering local communities as well as exploring the role of heritage in peacebuilding during post-conflict reconstruction and recovery.

I have joined the Department of Classics in 2017 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on heritage related projects that have interdisciplinary nature connecting the historic built environment from classical sites to historic cities with intangible aspects of heritage such as traditional building techniques and crafts, local community, and society.

Research interests

  • Cultural heritage management and urban conservation
  • Place identity and contested place
  • Tangible and intangible heritage
  • Sense of place and local community engagement
  • Post-conflict reconstruction and recovery

The interdisciplinary nature of my research bridges architecture, heritage conservation and sustainable urban development connecting the built environment (buildings and sites), meaning and values (stakeholders and community), and the function. More specifically the role of sense of place in (re)configuring values, practices, collective memory, and identity of the historic place in a specific cultural cluster. My research interests had led to developing several activities and capacity building training programs and worked closely with heritage professionals in Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and the UK. I have worked as part of the project 2017-2019 ‘Training in Action: From Documentation to Protection of Cultural Heritage in Libya and Tunisia’ funded by Cultural Protection Fund. This project delivered training to 60 trainees from national heritage organizations on heritage documentation, protection, and management.

I have co-developed the current project ‘Managing Libya’s Cultural Heritage MaLiCH’- a three-year project funded by ALIPH . This project will build capacity in the preparation, implementation, and monitoring of management plans for three Libyan WHS: Old Town of Ghadames, the archaeological sites of Lepcis Magna, and Sabratha. I have been involved in a couple of short training and studies related to documenting damage during conflict and emergency interventions to stabilize structures in Syria. I have also joined colleagues from Winchester University in developing and co-directing the project Sensing Place that provides a digital platform to aid local people to map their heritage and local values.

Selected publications

  • Alkhalaf, H., (In press) Whose Heritage is that? Sense of Place between War and Peace times.
  • Alkhalaf, H., (forthcoming 2022) Sustaining cultural heritage in post-conflict Syria- The case of Aleppo, In Fouseki, K., Cassar, M., Dreyfuss, G., & Ang Kah-Eng, K. (Eds.). (2022). Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Heritage (1st ed.). Routledge.
  • Alkhalaf, H., Leone, A., Wootton, W., Fenwick, C., Nebbia, M., Jorayev, G., . . . Voke, P. (2020). An integrated methodology for the documentation and protection of cultural heritage in the MENA region: A case study from Libya and Tunisia. Libyan Studies, 51, 141-168. doi:10.1017/lis.2020.11
  • Alkhalaf, H., (2019), Reconstructing life and memories in Post-conflict Cities, Architecture & Collective Life- The 16th Annual International Conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association AHRA, Dundee.
  • Alkhalaf, H., (2018). A sense of place: towards integrated conservation and sustainable urban development practice (Doctoral dissertation, University of Edinburgh).


I have a teaching experience in architectural history and theory From Antiquity to Modernism, studio design, architectural conservation, and heritage management. I have also been working at UCL Institute for sustainable Heritage as an external supervisor for the MSc Sustainable Heritage.

I am a guest lecturer delivering seminars at various postgraduate courses such as Winchester university- MA Cultural Heritage and resource management CHARM; UCL Institute of Archaeology: MA Managing Archaeological Sites & MA Heritage Ethics and Archaeological Practice in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Expertise and public engagement

I am a member of, the International Committee of ICOMOS, ICOMOS Working Group of Syria and Iraq the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, and the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA). I am also an associate member of The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

I have been an invited speaker for different organizations, universities, workshops, and events on topics related to heritage conservation & management, digital heritage, post-conflict reconstruction & peace building and empowering local community.

I am also an active member of Our World Heritage Initiative and work as part of the groups ‘Heritage Places And Memory’ and ‘Heritage In Conflict’. Through this initiative I have organized events and webinars that included international experts in the field aiming to redefining the role of heritage in a multidimensional world and encourage reforming The World Heritage Convention.