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fertile voids (personal)

oral presentation with accompanying slides are now online, watch them here on the pecha kucha website
while walking in beirut, my mind is triggered by urban accidents, artifacts, leftover spaces, things people leave behind them thinking they will disappear. In truth these seemingly barren territories inform us about another layer of the city, and contain seeds of possibilities.
beginning with an immersive observation of voids in the city, their artifacts and their users, fertile voids is a series of real and imagined situations that reinvest the possibilities and impossibilities embedded in our experience of beirut. 

in the broad context of urban studies, i have found that constructed images can communicate things that escape traditional text and architectural representation to convey things that are invisible, immaterial, yet fundamental to urbanity, like motion, tension, situation, happening.

learning from beirut : abou-tony's portable bollard seat, mar mikhael
if we observe the city, we begin to notice that with very little means, one can appropriate and reclaim public space at a small scale with interventions that are rooted in genuine concerns. you may have seen this portable seat floating around mar mikhael for some time now. rumor has it it was made by the man who runs abou-tony's sandwich shop for extra seating space

bridge rest-stop
there are clues scattered in the most unexpected places for who wants to notice them. under bridges where some service drivers and sometimes beggars gather to rest, objects are left behind (chairs, mattresses, used plastic cups) and a layer of sunflower seeds covers the floor long after they have left, proving that almost every space has regular and circumstantial users

reusing accidental waste : split-unit urban gardening
while water shortage is affecting the entire city, thousands of split air-conditioning units hang on facades of buildings dripping clean distilled water down into the streets when collecting and channeling this accidental waste can actually make planting possible and affordable in dense urban areas despite the drought

reinvesting urban decay : sustaining micro-environments - the bird house 
many abandoned constructions flourish with fauna and flora we are not always aware of. minor adjustments can hep preserve and sustain these fragile systems that find less and less habitable space in the dense concrete city

reinvesting urban decay : sustaining micro-environments - the cat shelter
intervening in urban decay can provide sites for different non-commercial activities. for instance, solid waste can turn spaces otherwise unused into shelters for animals who otherwise colonize trash bins and dangerous heavy-traffic streets, as well as provide an opportunity for communities with affinities for animals to participate in sustaining them.

reinvesting urban decay : sustaining endangered social practices - the backgammon rooftop
when undersized sidewalks become overcrowded with everything but pedestrians in the city of beirut, these configurations of open spaces, here an abandoned rooftop accessible from street level, can foster endangered social practices

reinvesting urban decay : fostering landscape-subverting practices
certain expressions and appropriations of public space can be problematic when the limit between the private and the public is blurred. disused spaces can host a number of marginalized practices and provide a constructive and community-based space for alternative expressions and relations to the city. these transformative interventions are self-sustaining, they reshape space while being practiced within it

the city as land form : climbing wall
tall twenty-meter blind walls that surround empty lots, textured with different patterns become climbing walls in the middle of the city, turning urban decay into topographies and landscapes that become within reach and provide alternative sites for physical activity

the city in layers : lightweight park(ing)
a brief chat with the young boy and his friends guarding a dusty parking lot in the sun for 10 hours a day was enough to crystallize into an elevated urban park that adds a second layer while protecting from the sun and allows parking underneath

the city in the sky : public balconies
rooftops having been used as sniper stations during the 1975-1991 war, the city has developed a traumatic relation to its heights. in an effort to redefine this rapport, balconies of billboard poles are redefined as public spaces. a commercial object takes on a dimension of public interest.

the city in the sky : aerial sidewalks
on some sidewalks mysterious straw baskets drop suddenly in front of you. if you looked up you may find an elevated network of footbridges far from the pollution, connecting relandscaped roofs that have different neighborhood functions

the city in the sky : public cable-car
the idea of conceiving the city on a different level is both seducing and possible. When I saw the cable-car in the dense city of la paz in Bolivia where it is used as public transportation, the vision of such a network for Beirut didn’t seem as surreal
fertile voids (personal)

fertile voids (personal)

while walking in beirut, my mind is triggered by urban accidents, artifacts, leftover spaces, things people leave behind them thinking they will Read More