The Forgotten Cities Hiking Trails run along three different routes in the area of Samaan (Simeon) Mountain, the Limestone Massif of North Syria to the west of Aleppo. More than 700 dead or forgotten cities containing archeological sites and rich cultural and natural heritage features are located along the 140-kilometer north/south trail that varies from 20 to 30 kilometers wide.
The signage project aimed to valorize Syria’s natural culture and heritage and attract international recognition for this area in the hopes of propelling a nomination as an official UNESCO World Heritage site.
The signage system and trail concept were based on technical and functional requirements. The system needed to be:
- Maintenance free for up to 20 years
- Capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions
- Low cost
- Manufacturable on site with a local workforce
- Accident proof (from farming machinery, mules, motorbikes, herds of sheep, etc.)
- Low carbon footprint
The production itself both involved and benefited from the local population. Local villagers supplied vital navigation information and assisted in producing and planting the signs.
Sign materials were chosen for their ability to withstand weather conditions and possible vandalism. After concrete samples were sent to specialized laboratories for durability testing, the signs were constructed of concrete blocks with inset PVC letterforms (in both Arabic and English to appeal to Arab and Western audiences), arrows, and other visual elements. The result is a system that honors the rich heritage of the site but does not impose on it.
“This series of wayfinding signs is the perfect solution for the problem at hand: it is maintenance free, weather proof, low cost, can be produced by a local work force, and blends naturally and seamlessly with the environment. It is not stuffy or overdone, and fulfills its role with purpose and simplicity. Perhaps most impressive, this project will truly have a powerful and positive impact on the people who live in this area of North Syria.”
“The jurors were mightily impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of this entry. Compared with higher-budget and more sophisticated briefs, this 'hand-made' approach to creating trail signing was with the minimum of cost and fuss, and yet it creates a totally appropriate and long-lasting solution. A lot can be done with a little bit of thinking and use of readily available materials.”
Tammam Yamout (project manager, designer), Josette Khalil (creative director, designer)
MORES (environmental engineering, client representative, planning, contracting)
Peters Brass (PVC lettering), MORES and local community (concrete works)