Kenan, Architect

I am Kenan Alkuwatly, 26 years old. Before 2011, I attended Damascus University to study architecture.

My fascination with architecture started at an early age, my passion about the old city of Damascus and its  traditional Damascene houses made me realize the true value of the history of Arabic and Islamic architecture. I’ve worked hard to get my Syrian baccalaureate certificate to be considered in the Architecture Program; I graduated with a 93% average and was indeed enrolled in the program.

What really interest me is how Architecture and Design is more about building societies rather than merely building concrete structures. It is how they perform and react to the political and social breakdowns and breakups, and how it is made to consider and honour history and heritage.  

During the revolution in Syria, I participated in a civil protest. As a consequence, I was expelled from Damascus University. That was not the end of it, as a punishment, the university refused to issue any transcripts or proof of completion in my name, leaving me no other choice but to start over. That is when I left Syria and went to Dubai, to pursue an alternate future.

After leaving I tried all my best to continue studying but it was difficult to get a scholarship given my situation. So I put education on hold, and moved yet again, this time to Beirut, to find a job and develop my technical and conceptual skills. This was in 2013.. For my first job in Beirut,  I worked with “SAVE THE CHILDREN” as a shelter technician; I was responsible for the tents structure and winter rehabilitation of the refugee’s camps.

A year later, I wanted to start my own project so I quit my job, and I took advantage of my savings to rent a century-old Lebanese house which was abandoned since the Lebanese civil war.
I worked on its renovation with one of my friends; the Idea was to prep a place for living, working and gathering. Six months later,  the place was ready and we called it “Al Warsha”.

After that I started the project “Tablieh”
“Tablieh” was an online gallery; the idea was to provide low cost furniture made from reclaimed wood and pallets; I wanted to make an accessible way for the youth to buy furniture easily and to ask for decoration solutions with a delivery possibility.
“Tablieh” was a team of only two, my partner and I, working mostly with our hands or light electric tools. We were delivering our orders by Taxis and small trucks.
In eight months’ time, the project was well-known in Beirut, and we catered to more than 200 houses.

This successful journey in Beirut resurfaced my passion to succeed, not just in carpentry, but as an architect, my initial dream. That’s when one of my friends introduced me to the founder of AlThuraya Foundation, they granted me a scholarship in Germany.
Within two weeks, we started working on my papers to apply to German Universities, Luckily everything went great and in August 2015 I had my visa and I moved to Germany. I am learning German now. While doing so, I am doing an internship in Furniture design at “Zeitraum-Moebel” in Munich, and I am looking forward to start studying next year. No matter how crooked the journey, hopefully, we (as youth), will always be able to keep achieving and to never stop following our dreams.