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…