Dr Yasmina El Chami


Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Engineering and the Built Environment

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Built environment

Dr Yasmina El Chami is an architect and architectural historian with 12 years of research and practice experience across the Middle East and the UK. Her research examines the intersections of colonial and imperial histories with the production of architecture and the built environment.

Yasmina’s work has been recognised by several awards including the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s Hawksmoor Essay Medal (2020), the Presbyterian Historical Society’s Annual Research Fellowship (2019), and the Omrania CSBE, Chadirji, and Areen Awards for Excellence in Architecture (2010).


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Yasmina joined ARU in 2022 after completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research explored the competing educational projects of Jesuit and Protestant missionaries in nineteenth-century Lebanon, and their entanglement with broader processes of French, British, and American imperialism in the Ottoman Empire.

Yasmina’s current research interests include transnational and postcolonial histories of modern architecture, the architecture of religious and ‘informal’ imperial actors in the Middle East, and histories of urban conflict and reconstruction.

Prior to her PhD, Yasmina worked in several international and Lebanese architecture studios, including Rafael Vinoly Architects & Planners (NY), Nabil Gholam Architects, Bernard Khoury/DW5, Hala Younes/AetA, and Mariagoup. Since 2013 she has taught design studios and lecture courses at the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, the University of Cambridge, the Manchester School of Architecture, and De Monfort University’s Leicester School of Architecture.

Research interests

  • Colonial and postcolonial architectural and urban histories
  • Material and environmental histories of Empire
  • American imperialism/exceptionalism
  • Missionary architecture
  • Middle East architecture and urbanism
  • Conflict urbanism / post-conflict reconstruction


BA (Hons) Architecture / BSc Architecture:

  • Cultural Context: Modernism and Beyond
  • Architectural Design Studio 2
  • Site Studies and Design


  • PhD Architecture. University of Cambridge, 2022
  • MPhil Architecture and Urban Design. Architectural Association, 2013
  • BArch Architecture. American University of Beirut, 2010

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Selected grants and awards
  • Histories of Urban Design Conference Fellowship, ETH Zurich, 2021
  • Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference Fellowship, 2021
  • Institute of Historical Research Scouloudi Junior Research Fellowship, 2020–21
  • Funds for Women Graduates Doctoral Completion Grant, 2020–21
  • Hawksmoor Essay Medal, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, 2020
  • Presbyterian Historical Society Annual Research Fellowship, 2019
  • School of Arts & Humanities Conference Organisation Grant, University of Cambridge, 2018
  • Lady Margaret Beaufort Portrait Prize, Christ’s College, Cambridge, 2018
  • Cambridge International Scholarship, 2017–20
  • Omrania CSBE Award for Excellence in Architecture, 2010
  • Chadirji Award for Excellence in Architecture, Lebanese Order of Engineers and Architects, 2010
  • Areen Award for Excellence in Architecture, American University of Beirut, 2010

Selected recent publications

Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters

El Chami, Y., 2021. An American “Garden” in an Oriental “Desert”: The Modernity of Timber at the Syrian Protestant College. Architectural Theory Review 25(1-2), pp. 199-215. doi: 10.1080/13264826.2021.1958354

El Chami, Y., 2021. A Supranational Jesuit Project in Nineteenth-Century Beirut: Multiplicities of the Local and Global at the Université Saint-Joseph. ABE Journal: Architecture Beyond Europe, 19, pp. 1-37. doi: 10.4000/abe.12690

El Chami, Y., 2018. The Place Beyond the Coast: A Spatio-Political History of Mount Lebanon’s Interior. In: Younes, H. (Ed.), 2018. The Place that Remains: Recounting the Un-built Territory (Milano: Skira), pp. 176-183.

El Chami, Y., 2015. Beirut: From City of Capital to Capital City. Urban Flux 45(5)., pp. 70–79.

Edited journal

El Chami, Y., Palate, S., (Eds.), 2019. Scroope: The Cambridge Architecture Journal, 28 [with editorial introduction: Introducing Concinnitas].

Design journal articles

El Chami, Y., Palate, S., 20189. It All Starts with the Ground: Interview with Amanda Levete. Scroope: The Cambridge Architecture Journal, 28, pp. 8-21.

El Chami, Y., 2019. Inhabiting Territory: Nature, Conflict, and Capital, visual essay. Ground-Up: Journal of the Department of Landscape Architecture at UC Berkeley, 8, pp. 29-34.

Online essays

El Chami, Y., 2020. The Crisis of Heritage in Beirut: Conflict, Capital, and Reconstruction. Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Features.

El Chami, Y., 2013. Beirut, From City of Capital to Capital City: Reconstructing a Lebanese State Identity Within Neoliberal Economy. AA Projective Cities Publications.

El Chami, Y., 2012. From Multipli-city to Corporate City in Beirut’s Central District. AAProjective Cities Publications.

Media experience

Architecture and Empire. The Architectural History Podcast, with Elsie Owusu, Tania Sengupta and Shahmima Akhtar, hosted by Matthew Roberts and Jessica Kelly, June 2021.