Winner of the third Audi Innovation Award announced at Dubai Design Week 2018, Elias El Soueidi's project ‘Ruin To Reality’ recreates history through an innovative app.

“History is a very delicate subject,” says Elias El Soueidi. “To destroy it is to destroy our identity.” Born and raised in Lebanon, El Soueidi is an architect and designer whose personal history is entrenched in the background of the Lebanese Civil War.

Having witnessed the destruction of landmarks around the region due to war or natural disaster, he became interested in architecture as a function. “The edifices in which we live and work shape our daily lives and also become part of history. Memory is what creates culture,” he says. “I am interested in this as well as how buildings that are no longer present still continue to have an effect. Their absence still evokes both individual and collective memories.”

After studying architecture between Beirut and Paris, El Soueidi pursued his specific interest by participating in international research workshops and programs simulating different iterations of living spaces around the world and developed his interest in both the collective and individual memories embedded in existing structures – whether physically present or destroyed, and it was such that inspired him to design ‘Ruin To Reality’, an app that allows access to three-dimensional models of sites of historical importance through a virtual reality mask.

“As an architect I have always been interested in form and design. In this age and time, form follows technology. Virtual Reality offers the possibility to share an imaginative space, recreate it and offer it to people,” he says.

By uploading architectural data from archaeological sites such as the ancient city and Roman amphitheatre of Palmyra in Syria, the application recreates the experience of standing in front of the ancient monuments. It also creates a timeline of the specific geographical site offering a unique insight into the development of each place in a visual sweep through its history.

El Soueidi was inspired to create such an application to ignite all individual memories once shared in those sites and allow people to share them with each other. His tool will serve to connect the people and civilisations of the present with those of the past and will also safeguard these important structures for future generations.

The innovative qualities of this idea as well as its regional significance is what motivated the jury for the third annual Audi Innovation Award to choose El Soueidi as the winner. Currently, he is working on fine-tuning his proposal as well as programming data from other important sites. By Dubai Design Week 2019, he hopes to have programmed buildings in three different cities around the globe.

Learn more about the work of Elias el Soueidi here.

Find out more about the Audi Innovation Award here. The 2019 theme and submissions will be live in February.