Emerging Trends in Urbanism: The Beirut Post-War Experience

An Essay on a presentation made by Robert Saliba to Diwan al-Mimar on April 20, 2000

Prepared by Mohammad al-Asad and Majd Musa in association with Robert Saliba, 2001

-Continued-

 

 

 (6) For additional information on the work of Bizri, Salama and Tabet, see the Environment and Heritage section of the Lebanese daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Nahar, October 1, 1998.

 (7) For additional information concerning Solidere, see http://www.solidere.com/. Also see the documentation of Saliba's public lecture, "Deconstructing Beirut's Reconstruction: 1990-2000" in the e-publications section of this web site.

 (8) For additional information concerning the incremental approach to preservation in Beirut, see Robert Saliba "Emergency Preservation of Beirut's Peri-Center Districts: A Framework for Debate and Action."

 (9) For additional information concerning the Ecochard plan and its impact on planning in Lebanon, see Marlene Ghorayeb, "The Work and Influence of Michel Ecochard in Lebanon," in Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis (eds.), Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City (Munich and New York: Prestel Publishing, 1998).

 (10) Rafiq al-Hariri, a prominent businessman, held the post of Lebanon's Prime Minister from 1992 - 1998, and was re-elected to the post in October 2001. He is the main stockholder, and also the initiator, of the Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of the Beirut Central District, Solidere.

 (11) Modern planning is a product of the late 19th century, and initially aimed at mending the cities that were decaying under the influence of industrialization. Its focus had been on a comprehensive approach to planning concerned with large-scale developments, and therefore has been criticized as serving capitalists interest more than the less-powered public. It emphasizes the functional zoning of different activities and the incorporation of non-ornamental, mass-produced modernist architectural designs.

In response to the shortcomings of modern planning and to socioeconomic changes, the modernist paradigm started to be challenged by post-modernism in the 1970s and the 1980s. Post-modern planning focuses on a step-by-step approach that is concerned with small-scale developments and allows for public participation in the planning process. It emphasizes mixed land-use zoning, playful references to past architectural styles, pluralistic and organic strategies, the local context and human scale, the recreation of community and vernacular forms, and the renewal and regeneration of urban fabrics.

For additional information concerning modern and post-modern planning and the differences between them, see David Macleod "Post-Modernism and Urban Planning," at http://www3.sympatico.ca/david.macleod/POMO.HTM.

 (12) For additional information on the Elyssar project as an alternative model of reconstruction and redevelopment, see Mona Harb el-Hak, "Urban Governance in Post-War Beirut: Resources, Negotiations, and Contestations in the Elyssar Project," in Satine Shami (ed.), Capital Cities: Ethnographies of Urban Governance in the Middle East (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming); and Mona Harb el-Hak, "Transforming the Site of Dereliction into the Urban Culture of Modernity: Beirut's Southern Suburbs and the Elyssar Project," in Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis (eds.), Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City. Also see Mona Fawaz, Islam, Resistance, and Community Development, Master's thesis, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998.

 (13) Concerning the Prince of Wales' Urban Design Task Force in Lebanon, see Robert Saliba "The Prince of Wales' Urban Task Force in Lebanon: The Difficult Reconciliation of Western Concepts and Local Urban Politics," Urban Design International 2-3 (September 1997): 155 - 168.

 (14) "The goal of EIA is to prevent environmental degradation by giving decision-makers better information about the potential impacts that an action could have on the environment." See David Macleod, "Primer on Environmental Impact Assessment," at http://www3.sympatico.ca/david.macleod/EIA.HTM.

 (15) For additional information relating to planning conditions in Beirut immediately following the Lebanese civil war, see Khaled Asfour, "The Reconstruction of Beirut: A Dialogue Across Borders," Mimar 40 ( 1991): 18 - 19. This article can be directly accessed at the Internet at http://archnet.org/library/documents/. Also see Angus Gavin, "Heart of Beirut: Making the Master Plan for the Renewal of the Central District," in Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis (eds.), Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City; and Rodolphe el-Khoury, "The Post-War Planning of Beirut," in Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis (eds.), Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City.

 (16) For a criticism of this approach to planning in Beirut's southern suburbs, see Mona Harb el-Hak, "Urban Governance in Post-War Beirut: Resources, Negotiations, and Contestations in the Elyssar Project."

 (17) See Thomas Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989).

 

 List of Figures

Figure 1: The 1931 Danger Master Plan for Beirut.

Figure 2: The 1977 APUR Reconstruction Plan for Beirut.

 

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