What is an Islamic Garden in the 21st Century?

With new Islamic gardens and landscapes being designed around the world, the question of identity has become more complex, and tradition and modernity increasingly entangled. The symposium asks what defines an Islamic garden or landscape today. Because research on Islamic landscape and gardens has mostly been written by and for historians, little attention has been paid to the modern and contemporary world. However, the symposium brings the historical focus closer to the present, and explores not only the various ways that contemporary designers have used the rich archive of historical precedents for inspiration in their work, but also how they have in turn contributed to the ongoing tradition of Islamic gardens. The symposium engages with contemporary issues and concerns related to identity, representation, modernity, nationalism, globalization, and tradition, and it considers the impact and meaning of these themes for the history and design of Islamic gardens and landscape.


  • D. Fairchild Ruggles, Debra L. Mitchell Chair in Landscape Architecture,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Amir Habibullah, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Abdelmohsen Farahat, King Abdulaziz University
  • Laila ElMasry, Sites International
  • Ratish Nanda, Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
  • Abdallah Tabet, Olin Studio
  • Thomas Woltz, Nelson Byrd Woltz
  • Kamelia Zaal, Kamelia Landscape
  • Jens Bödeker and Christoph Dankers (Bödeker Landscape Architects)


8:30               Coffee service

9:00               Dean Kevin Hamilton: Welcome

9:05               D. Fairchild Ruggles (UIUC Debra Mitchell Chair in Landscape Architecture): Introduction

Session 1

9:15                Amir Habibullah (UIUC Department of Landscape Architecture)

9:45                Jens Bödeker and Christoph Dankers (Bödeker Landscape Architects)


Session 2

10:45              Laila ElMasry (Sites International)

11:30               Abdelmohsen Farahat (King Abdulaziz University)


Session 3

1:30                Kamelia Bin Zaal (Kamelia Landscape)

2:15                Thomas Woltz   (Nelson Byrd Woltz)


Session 4

3:15                Ratish Nanda (Aga Khan Trust for Culture)

4:00                Abdallah Tabet (OLIN)

4:45-5:45        Roundtable Discussion, moderated by Mohammad Gharipour

6:00 Reception

Date: September 13, 2019

Location: Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, UIUC

Address: 611  Lorado Taft Drive, Champaign, IL 61802

Sponsor: The Debra L. Mitchell Chair Endowment in Landscape Architecture

Open to the university and the public


LACES 5 credits. Register at: https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/9930796

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