Conservation of architecture and settlements in Lebanon : two case studies
Author(s)Al-Hasani, Naji Maher-Nasr-e-din
Ronald B. Lewcock.
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Most of the information in this proposal is derived from my former and current research on Beirut, Methodology for Slow Conservation of War-Damaged Structures in Downtown Beirut. In the earlier version I have failed to highlight the significance of the Martyrs Square area. My aim in this addendum is to shed more light on the above. By doing so the conservation/rehabilitation zone takes on more of an inclusive and representational character, reflective of the richness and variety inherent in Beirut's complex urban fabric. An intriguing aspect of this study is the rather remote chance for implementing any such reconstructive schemes. Given the recent rounds of fighting, it has become more hopeless to conceive of any notion of conservation or rehabilitation. A positive aspect, however, may be derived from the existing schemes already drafted during this decade, for the area's possible rehabilitation/conservation. The recent decree for the opeirlng of "Greater Beirut" by President Elias Hrawi sheds more optimism. It is with the hope that some day soon the Lebanese conscience and that of the world will prevail so that humanity and people may live, enjoy, produce, thrive and flourish more abundantly - that history proves, as it has done in the past, that destruction can be overcome. Only then, we could possibly talk about more than surveys and protective measures to safeguard our historic heritage. This will be the time to restore and rehabilitate the New Martyrs Square in memory of those who died in the late Civil War. The second part of the thesis expands the scope of the subject to include the Shouf region. It is here that the roots for regional Lebanese architecture are inherent. While fighting and bombing have also shattered a considerable number of significant structures in this area; the process of reconstruction and occasional restoration has proven more effective than in urban Beirut. The process was carried over on the initiative of individuals. The primary reasons for such immediate intervention on the part of individuals was the advantage of less constraints in terms of the absence of bureaucracies (even with dramatically less fundamental support) and needless to say the lack of written conservation more comprehensive strategy for the area. Instead, alternate examples of almost identical character and plan will be substituted. legislation; these ,together boosted the rehabilitation/restoration process. A great many historical edifices and even more modest structures have already been fully restored, while the bulk of Beirut's historical structures and quarters are decaying with time and neglect. An equally important aspect in this scenario is the nature of the occupants and their attitudes toward preservation. While mountain dwellers seem more attached to their land and homestead, and accordingly are very reluctant to leave their surroundings, the city dwellers are more prone to mobility and social change. This aspect resulted in more restoration efforts in the mountains and accordingly less such in Beirut. Moreover, the building type most affected by destruction in Beirut happens to be concentrated in the heart of the city, Le.; the central business district, where hardly any residential apartment buildings exist. People seem to be more attached to their primary and more immediate surroundings, such as their own houses, which makes them more inclined by force-majeur to restore their dwellings. The last part of this thesis attempts to propose some particular "bylaws" or "clauses" regarding appropriate intervention. Consideration will be given to adaptive - reuse issues; especially as to what extent significant structures can be adaptively reused according to local conventions. No written bylaws exist in this sphere and the only precedent seems to encompass civil and religious buildings; this renders such an issue extremely delicate, if not controversial. This also leads us to one other major question -- to what extent should legislation permit physical alteration of historical structures? Finally, an integral element in this thesis is the lack of conservation legislation in third world countries in general of which Lebanon is only one example; and how could legislation and local conventions be more effective through implementation in wider parts of the Middle East region, especially after the war. ·On the whole, this thesis attempts to raise questions, suggest certain possible solutions to given problems, provide a status quo report from 1982 to the present, and family draw conclusions. The conclusions are by no means rigid and therefore remain subject to debate and further questioning.
Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1991.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 85-89).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology