Teenager Mohammed Kteish dreamt of becoming an architect as he was growing up in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
He spent his free time making paper models of buildings on the rooftop of the family home. When the war began, he moved into his father’s workshop.
Eventually he was prevented from going to school by the fighting and spent his time creating a model of his home city. He recreated Aleppo’s famous buildings and blended them with modern architecture to create a futuristic vision.
In 2015, Mohammed and his family were forced to flee to Turkey, but he refused to give up his dreams and continued to make his paper models.
Now those dreams have become a virtual reality project called “Future Aleppo”, with the help of transmedia producer Alex Pearson whom he met in 2016.
The project tours international festivals and, with support from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Mohammed, 16, carries out workshops with Syrian and Iraqi refugee schoolchildren.
Under his guidance, the children create buildings out of paper, which are transformed into a virtual city that they can then view through headsets.
“These workshops are really important for us as, in the future, we will return to our countries and rebuild them,” Mohammed told UNHCR
He still hopes to study architecture so that, one day, he can take part in the rebuilding of Aleppo.
The Future Aleppo project is supported by UNHCR. For more information or to download the mobile VR app created at the workshop; please visit www.futurealeppo.com.