Masters project, 2012
dir. prof. Jacques Lucan & Jacques Levy
reinterpreting beirut's “green line”
final year project (MArch) at epfl (CH)
presented in "bikes n beats" at the kindergarten collective (LB)
city of fragments
neighborhoods of beirut
planned public spaces
informal bus network
liminal space - the "green line"
can mobility (re)generate public space in a fragmented urban context? taking beirut as a case study, a city of many division lines both physical and psychological, the intervention is located for the most part along the "green line", the demarcation line and no man's land that separated east beirut from west beirut during the war of 1975-1991. today this limit has become an invisible boundary, one of the most present psychological barriers that conditions the user’s relation to the fragmented city.
the project seeks to foster the boundary as a space that is as unifying as it is dividing, being the only common element and eventual shared space between different autonomous entities. this particular boundary was chosen as a site for intervention because of its scale, running between more than 8 neighborhoods across the entire city. rather than creating a space that flattens diversity, the boundary fosters the expression of diverse and subjective experiences of the city.
the goal is to generate a specific type of public space, far from the western model of planned spaces; a space which would stem from the friction between territorial attachment - typical of the city of beirut - and the need for mobility. in that sense, it is born of the confrontation of scales : that of the anonymous city, and that of the site's immediate context.
at the scale of the city, the intervention consists of a soft mobility connection between the two major practiced public spaces : the pine wood (horsh beirut) and the seafront (corniche). this promenade is fuelled by 3 transport hubs corresponding to existing informal nodes. like an urban procession, the promenade runs along the threshold of seven neighborhoods, framing the contrasts of the city.
the void in the center of the city is redefined as a public cultural park where the promenade is oriented towards historical and cultural interest points. the void is protected by redefining the perimeter : the city is allowed to grow within a planned limit, the void is preserved and no longer perceived as a residual space of transit, but rather as a programmatically, culturally, and historically relevant and human-scale public space.
connecting the woods to the sea : soft mobility path running through intermodal nodes, feeding into a public park in the center
park site : the void in the center
the void in the center (blow-up)
the procession from woods to sea
void as activity
the two existing informal nodes are organised into intermodal transport platforms where cars, buses, taxi-services converge. a third node is created by the sea, and intermediate stops along the path, corresponding to frequent stops of the informal public transport system. waiting spaces equipped with commercial spaces and other convenience and grocery stores are linked to the stations.
a permanent cultural program completes the temporary and seasonal activites that usually take place in close proximity to the site. neighborhood-oriented public spaces are also part of the cultural park. these spaces act as social condensers that try to create friction through simultaneous meeting points for very contrasted social, economical and cultural spheres. they become a series of tableaux-vivants, where the essence of beirut’s public space can survive : a space of friction between scales, between speeds, and between social spheres.
History as palimpsest is made visible. The ancient archeological sites are protected and reinvested as seasonal performance spaces where some parts are accessible to tours. In the same spirit of a self-contained museum, other points are framed on site : the martyrs monument, the decaying ruins of the 1975 war. Some are made accessible as temporary cultural venues, others are framed as-found objects, objects isolated in time and space.