Beirut Shifting Grounds

17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia


17th Biennale di Venezia. Beirut Shifting Grounds.
From May 22, 2021 until November 21, 2021

With the additional support of ArD | Department of Architecture and Design, the MSFEA | Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at the American University of Beirut,Sandra Frem (American University of Beirut, platau) and Boulos Doueihy (platau | platform for architecture of urbanism) with Carla Aramouny, Nicolas Fayad and Rana Haddad (ArD | Department of Architecture and Design | American University of Beirut) will be presenting a research project - Beirut Shifting Grounds – at the Co-Habitats section out of competition at 17th International Architecture Exhibition, “How will we live together?” that will be held in Venice from May 22nd 2021 to November 21st, 2021.

The project
Beirut Shifting Grounds is a research project that spanned over two years, simultaneously as Beirut was going downhill with the collapse of its economy, pandemic outbreak and finally the Beirut Port explosion. This very same period was ripe with unprecedented activism, collective self-organization and bottom up mobilization in the face of the pervading adversity.In such context, the project probes “how will we live together” by foregrounding spatial practices at the ground level of Beirut that allow people to adapt through uncertainty and change.
Through four parallel narratives, the research focuses on manifestations of improvisation, reclamation, and production that offer lessons of adaptation and solidarity for the uncertain future.The human lens - it is all on the streets- presents four short films that encounter the act of “being” in Beirut’s public realm through shifting conditions: privatization, revolution and post-blast activism.the urban lens - improvisation- projects the life of 7 neighbourhoods in Beirut through transitional moments; narrating their urban transformation, improvisations at their ground level, as well as indicators that inform their urban pulse. This lens traces how improvisations evolve to organized networks of solidarity after the Port Blast, during the relief and reconstruction period.the architecture lens – production- narrates Beirut’s built environment through specific buildings and typologies of sections, reflecting on the spatial modes of production that shaped Beirut’s ground until the Port blast, and calling for new modes of collective production amid the post-blast reconstruction.The temporal lens- reclamation- emphasize the agency of urban space to accommodate public expression through a time-lapse of Martyrs ‘square, focusing on the metamorphosis of its urban form, activities, public mobilization and its capacity to reinvent itself through the different periods.Together, the four lenses raise an open speculation on the architecture of the ground and its proclivity to support collective appropriation, offering the possibility of a city that still belongs to its inhabitants amid shifting conditions.
17th Biennale di Venezia. Beirut Shifting Grounds.
17th Biennale di Venezia. Beirut Shifting Grounds.