An image of Marwa al-Sabouni

2022: Marwa Al-Sabouni

Syrian author and architect

Marwa Al-Sabouni is a Syrian architect and author. A Prince Claus laureate 2018, and named in the BBC’s 100 Women, 2019.

Her acclaimed book The Battle for Home was chosen by the Guardian as one of best architectural books of 2016 and was named by UK Prospect Magazine as one of the Top 50 thinkers in the world. Her second book, Building for Hope, was published by Thames & Hudson in April 2021. 

She is an international public speaker, taking part in different platforms around the world such as the Sydney Opera House and the World Economic Forum. Her TED Talk was among the best of TED talks 2016 and was viewed over 1 million times. 

Co-founder of Arch-news, the world's first and only website dedicated to architectural news in Arabic and the winner of Royal Kuwaiti award for best media project in the Arab World 2010. 

The Architectural Digest listed her as one of the top contenders for the Pritzker Prize 2018 and her writings have been published in the RIBA Journal, Architectural Review, Financial Times, Wall Street International Magazine, Standpoint Magazine, ICRC Journal among others. 

She runs a private studio with her partner in the Syrian city of Homs. 


'I was a 29-year-old mother of two, studying for my PhD in architecture in 2011 when the war broke in Homs, my hometown in Syria. Fast-forward five years, my first book The Battle for Home is published by Thames & Hudson in London, which has changed my career from a young little-known architect living in Homs, into an international author and thinker. My experience is a condensed one, for years my world would shift from the scenery of rubble, the sounds of shelling, and the tectonic ground of war living, into the buzz of airports, and the pressure of stage speaking. 

My trips would last for a few days every month or so. During which, I would try to absorb as much as I can from the new knowledge brought to me by meeting new people, visiting new places, and learning about different cultures. I have learned so much on the way, I wrote another book: Building for Hope, but my true treasure was the many friendships I’ve made along the way, and the true and pure human connections I’ve been so fortunate to form. 

The invitation to co-guest direct Brighton Festival with Tristan Sharps, is one example of what I’m describing.'