the Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage[APLH], in collaboration with Volver travel agency,organized a cultural tour on the 16th of june 2015, in theSursock and Abrine neighborhoods.
The participants, many of them high school youngsters, had the privilege of discovering the Villa Audi and its mosaics.
Next, at the Rue Sursock, the group intently listened to the architect/restorer and guide of the APLH, who outlined the urban context of the neighborhood. They found out how the zone was gentrified and how the charles Malek avenue divided in the 70s, an initially unified urban fabric.
The group then took the St Nicholas Gardens perpendicular, to see a series of traditional buildings dating back to the20′s and 40′s, with their vernacular design explained in detail by the APLH guide.
Finally, the crucial part of the visit,was in the Abrine neighborhood, where the Abrine school is still located. The group discovered a cluster of 4 traditional buildings, promised to imminent demolition.
Another real estate project is seeking the demolition of this cluster of building sas well as a part of the Abrine school in an attempt to join a 5th parcel to the upcoming project’s 4 existing parcels. Another peaceful neighborhood is about tobe devoured by the development leviathanthat is still not done mauling Ashrafieh and Beirut’s charming traditional areas.
This building cluster, with its gardens,constitutes the last haven of peace and tranquility in Ashrafieh, and is now an exceptional rarity thanks to the still perfect condition of its buildings.
The visiting group in its various ages,was awed at the beautiful structure of the buildings, their architectural details and their many aesthetic yet vernacular features,most of them still intact… Their awe was only matched by their outrage at the neglect displayed by the authorities supposed to protect such gems of Lebanese history and culture. The APLH’s multiple calls (for more than a year) to the ministry of Culture to classify and protect this cluster, still go unheard.
The visit was filmed and a copy of the footage will be sent soon to the minister of Culture, in the hope for a positive turn of events, similar to that of the contemporary and modern Lebanese Art dossier.
The APLH has a plan regarding the recuperation and rehabilitation of the 4 buildings in question, and hopes for the Ministry’s active cooperation.