tutor | maroun el-daccache

BEIRUT: CITY OF POST-CRISIS(ES)

The disaster of August 4, 2020 made us reflect once again on the “dispersion” of the “objects” to which we are very attached that generally destroy the orientation of a society.
All ideas and theories for a “healthy and better urban life” are being reconsidered as structures that have destroyed the cities we believed in; the stress of work, the tension of traffic, the hectic pace of life, the daily routine… All these infrastructures that put the functional system of the city in motion suddenly became the main causes for its reconsideration and essential to confirm our existence.
I was reflecting on all the regulations, urban and social dogmatism, that have affected the rhythm of our daily lives; i.e. at the authenticity of our social life and that of our work that are suddenly considered as the end of an era.
The “empty cities” in this context, is considered equal for all urban communities in the world after disasters. The “emptiness”, but above all the “silence of the city”, has created a real sense of fear for society. An impromptu silence of the explosion has provoked a rethinking of our daily life and consequently to all the mechanism/instruments we use; the fear, for example, of losing the social and urban references and conventions that have structured the movement of our cities for centuries.
The fear of isolating ourselves with urban silence has made us reconsider the collective spaces and their function in relation to the public and private space of urban life.
This brought to my memory, the time of our civil war and the isolation of the historic centre of Beirut city in 1975-90, which destroyed the balance between the different urban communities. The “empty” urban and the fear of “silence” in that area provoked the green line that divided the city into two parts and prevented the access to all citizens.
Already at that time, in 1990, I often questioned the reconstruction theme, the dilemma between the preservation of memory and today’s life in post-war cities.
Now in 2020 my questions are addressed on the themes of movement, dialogue, conflicts, crises, time, silence, the collective/private spaces and their influences in the post-destroyed area of Beirut, which could represent elements of research to conceive the survival of the city’s wound.

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