Architectural Atrocities…

We wonder how a permit was given to allow this Optimus Prime
foot building to be built this close to the traditional house right under
it. The picture speaks for itself: the old house’s beauty is forever crushed by a gigantic concrete boot, its chambers drowned in shadow and humidity for its remaining days. but hey, we preserved the old house, right? It’s still standing!

The APLH will be participating in tomorrow’s protest with Save Beirut Heritage to demand once again the voting and implementation of the law to protect traditional streets and buildings.


If a house could speak

“I am a flower…Take care of me”:
Thus says the plaque on this traditional Ashrafieh house.

Hoping it doesnt fall on deaf ears.



To look past the facade

When the beirut municipality gives a demolition permit to a developer
because this developer agrees to ‘preserve’ the old building’s facade by incorporating it into the facade of the new tower he’s going to built, it is like ‘preserving’ a Siberian tiger’s fur in the form of a coat after killing the endangered majestic wild animal. The house is DEAD when you empty it and display its facade on your new building’s 10th floor like a deer’s head over a chimney.

People need to know that the current and ongoing disfigurement of Beirut is not just, old buildings being demolished; it’s a country’s identity being wiped out, and replaced by an imported identity in the form of ultramodern towers and gigantic malls. Our architectural memory which took centuries to be shaped this way, is now systematically obliterated by real estate moguls to whom, 10’s of millions of $ are a breeze. These people dont care about history, architecture, vernacular design, functionality, urban planning, zoning, green spaces in urban areas. They want to build and sell one concrete monstrosity after the other, and we dont blame them because that’s all they know and care to do.

It’s ordinary people who are to blame because they’re letting this happen with a disheartening display of disconnection. Their capital is suffocating with towers growing in it exactly like a tumor (chaotically, and in all the wrong places) while they go about their business being totally oblivious to their living space’s deterioration.

The solution is a law that protects old traditional buildings,  enforces the specifications of the architecture to build according to the area’s infrastructure and compensates traditional building owners by allowing them to build elsewere. Currently Lebanon doesnt have that and being a country with an extremely rich heritage, this is simply criminal. People of Lebanon, the internet is our civilized tool to pressure our government to enact such a law to prevent further cultural disfigurement to beirut. Make your voice heard through facebook and through your spoken and written word but just dont go ignoring what’s going on around you and saying ‘I cant do anything about it’.

Wishing Lebanon a cultural resurrection…



Greets! our website is in its final stage of twinking.
It would be awesome if anyone can step in to help us manage the site
(updates, moderation, pictures/downloads, etc). The work is benevolent,
but you can proudly put it on your CV 😛



Not all is bleak!

Just like the town of Jounieh was able to own a traditional house and restore it as a public monument, we hope the municipality of Beirut follows suit. we’re not just talking 2-3 buildings but the entire Zoukak el Blat area, any remaining house overlooking the Ain el Mreisseh bay and many beautiful houses still scattered in ashrafieh and overshadowed by empty and lifeless towers and their blind walls. aside from stressing the infrastructure & depriving the street of water and electricity, ashrafieh towers plunge small ashrafieh streets in darkness in the middle of the day with their bulk. hoping the Beirut municipality realizes that we can also build towers and do business outside Beirut too!


A typical case of non-culture


A common scenario that happens frequently in Lebanon: He’s young, he’s rich, he inherited a house from his father. We write about an existing person who shall remain nameless. He is an architect so he’s had an education. and yet he’s still going to build a tower on the premices of the 150 years old Lebanese mansion he inherited.

The 2-floor house,  has typical arcades, wooden carpentry that’s still in perfect condition, courtyards, cast iron staircase, kitchen  vault or ‘khan’ at the back.

Dear sir, you don’t want it, you cant destroy it. this house belongs to the history of  Lebanon and represents its memory. these houses are rare. their value is beyond monetary. We understand that an uneducated ‘nouveau riche’ would find no value in owning such a house, but an architect!!? Lebanese -expats or locals- who can, are urged to save these treasures of history and restore them into a wonderful boutique hotel, a library, an art center etc…when there’s a will there’s a way.


Now what…

the joint efforts of the APLH and the ministry of culture have stopped the demolition of the ain el mreisseh house and another neighboring house as well. we’ll be in talks with the ministry of culture to see how these house are going to be restored.

Right now the house is roofless, its carpentry exposed like many buildings which demolition was halted and were left as such. let’s hope the government can own them or (who knows) we can raise enough money to make this house owned by all the donators who participate in buying it. any suggestion will be welcome!

Thanks to the sizable support we’ve received those last 2 days in emails and phone calls and to the ministry of culture for being quick to respond despite the current governmental  shutdown.

will update you soon..


RIP Ain el Mreisseh…??

one of the last vestiges of Ain el Mreisseh is about to fall prey to ruthless ‘development’. its roof is being dismantled and a  high rise will be standing
in its place soon unless we act to prevent further bulldozing of our history.

The Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage has notified the Ministry of Culture and is waiting for a reply in the next 36 hours to know if the demolition will be halted and the house saved.
To all supporters, members, admins of cultural groups: Save Beirut Heritage,
Le Mouvement Des Jeunes, the Green Party, every heritage-related group and
organization, we are notifying you that, should the Ministry of Culture be non responsive, you are invited to join us to make a stand against this ongoing cultural massacre, in a sit-in in front of the house, at a date which we’ll communicate to you.

Local and international press is urged to cover this stand
and show that despite the absence of government, there’s a collective and
responsible will to preserve and protect Lebanon’s memory for the sake of our future and that of our descendence.

STAY TUNED to ‘Stop Destroying Your Heritage’ and to

We know it’s a short notice but this is an emergency where we’re together to prevent historical and cultural murder.


A Suggestion…

in lebanon there’s an obvious will by the governmental institutions to do
nothing. or to actively pursue projects that have nothing to do with public will or social need of the lebanese people. add to that, the frenzied and neurotic way the lebanese go about their business, trying to pay for that new car, or taking that ‘technology loan’ to indulge in an iPad or absolutely wanting to get those 400$ jeans with a 1000$ salary. the result is a general public that is oblivious to what’s happening around them because they’re busy buying plastic, stupid shiny gizmos
and wasting their life at the mall or the local narguileh lounge. this leaves carte blanche to governmental institutions to cut private deals, help themselves and basically do whatever increases their fortune to the detriment of their country’s future, in typical 3rd world mentality. the current regional  unrest only encourages these people (and the public as well) to spiral further down in chaos.

between 2 brackets, Japan, currently in a lamentable state following a devastating series of quakes and a tsunami, is a remarkable (but not surprising) example of organization and civilization amidst chaos. nowhere in the torn down streets do we see armed gangs roaming the streets looting shops and taking advantage of the situation. shops in isolated areas still operate normally and are still secure because the people are civilized enough to know that they count on those shops to receive a stream of supplies for their community. they havent lost the concept of hierarchy with this deadly tsunami, their discipline is something we dont see anywhere else (save maybe in scandinavia or some parts of europe that arent tainted by foreign immigration).
let something like this happen in any other country and its so called civilized people would revert to animal behavior in no time. forgive this digression but i felt it
was worthy of note  to show the contrast between us and real civilizations with real discipline. it’s to show that we’re already behaving worse than animals (animals dont trash their environment, lie, backstab or do politics) without the need for a tsunami or a 9.0 quake.

anyway, my suggestion is this; NGO’s in lebanon, need to consolidate their efforts into one common ‘front’, manned by private individuals (those same individuals who founded those organizations) and with their PR abilities, sponsors, foreign aids, private funds, and different resources, undertake the reconstruction of Lebanon  under one ‘super organization’, with its many sub-organizations being the respective NGO’s of this new ‘coalition’ and handling their respective tasks of rebuilding the sectors they’re specialized in.

whoever reads this and finds flaws in this suggestion, is invited to point them out and to help find ways of remedying them.
i believe this is perhaps the only viable option to have a semblance of organization
since the NGO’s are mostly disciplined enough and motivated in contrast to a rotten and absent government who’s only busy getting cuts on development deals in beirut ad strategic estival areas.


Heritage also means the environment…

I’ve been regularly taking the bus to Beirut since 2004. i get to witness the behavior of (most of) lebanese comfortably sitting with their windows shut, latte in hand, smartphone in the other, and somehow managing to get to work in one piece.

the crushing majority of those people are alone in their car. the crushing majority of them drive an SUV. yet i’m sure they all tune in to Earth Hour or are on some facebook pro-environment group. if you tell the average lebanese that the air in beirut is polluted, they wouldnt really ‘get’ what you’re trying to say since they drive with their windows shut, and their car’s A/C or air purifier takes care of the rest so they arrive to their cubicle unaware with what they just passed through on their way to work.

lebanese are islands. they get by with an apparent indifference to the ecological shift happening around them (and which they are causing). yet they still manage to show healthy amounts of outrage whenever environmental deterioration is shown on the TV (namely the mountain of trash of karantina, or saida). students drive to the university in their SUV’s to present their environmental sciences (taken as a free elective) group project where they flaunt the merits of going for maritime traffic. there are infinitely simpler solutions to pollution, my dear islands. you just need to leave your overblown ego at home and take the bus or ride a bicycle for a change. or walk for 1 or 2 km a day. you’d notice what heavy traffic is doing to your city and air. taking common transportation will mean dividing your commuting time by at least 4. instead, the lebanese prefer to whine about how long it takes them to get to work. but to do something about it?? are you crazy? you want people NOT to see my new 4×4?? what about my PRESTIGE? my STANDING? maybe in 5 years you’ll tell your gas mask-wearing kids you had to sacrifice the oxygen and environment for your prestige. where i work, we have entry level employees earning between 1100 and 1400$ driving 35000$ cars and paying 100$ a month worth of parking fees. they have the latest iPhone with 648 925 apps. they all make sure they shut down their cellphones and computers during Earth Hour so they feel good about themselves. hey, we just protected the environment! they congratulate themselves while warming up their SUV. dear young lebanese, you must realize what you’re doing and take active measures to reverse this catastrophic environmental course. it’s your quality of life that’s at stake, and that of your kids. before demanding the abolition of the confessional system, make a move for the sake of your health and leave your cars at home for weekend use.