Jan Willem Petersen / Specialist Operations

Uruzgan’s Legacy

The project

Since 2001 tens of thousands of reconstruction projects have been implemented in Afghanistan, in an attempt to rebuild that which was destroyed through decades of war. Now that the efforts are coming to an end and the international community has left the country, the results are being documented in Uruzgan’s Legacy. The research investigates extreme examples of nation building and, in place of centring everything around statistics (such as how many schools have been built), it looks at the impact of the interventions.


This project offers exceptional insights: many western efforts in Afghanistan have not made a little positive contribution to the reconstruction of the country. Uruzgan’s Legacy analyses and criticises the Dutch reconstruction results from Task Force Uruzgan, but does more than just bring a few shortcomings to the surface. Tangible proposals for improvements are made, through which the publication has become a ‘must-read’ for future missions. The committee does not only see a lot of depth in the project, it also praises the designers for their research in such a difficult place.


In making Uruzgan’s Legacy, Jan Willem Petersen went to great lengths to become embedded in his environment, and by doing so, effectively introduce a new type of architect. The findings of his penetrating investigation are accessible; the maps with powerful photography and simply formatted texts present the analyses in a clear, tangible fashion. Uruzgan’s Legacy shows that, by virtue of the role they assume, designers can make highly complex information accessible. With which they have the potential to make a vital difference.

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