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Preserving Modernism in Post-Explosion Beirut

Andersson, Sebastian

This thesis assesses how the reconstruction efforts following the 2020 Beirut port explosion are affecting the modern built heritage in the city, and analyzes how perceptions of the modern heritage are changing through this process. Grounded in existing literature on the modern heritage in Lebanon, this thesis summarizes and offers a critical view on the totality of this literature. Analyzing the history of architectural modernism in Lebanon, this work seeks to place it in a wider context of a Lebanese vernacular architecture and to question and complicate the idea of the ‘modern’. Likewise, it aims to analyze the notion of a Lebanese or Beiruti built heritage in light of current and past heritage efforts.

The contribution of this thesis is a series of in-depth interviews with experts, academics, and NGO representatives on the place of the modern within the idea of heritage in Beirut today, as well as a photographic survey of reconstruction efforts on El Khazinien Street in the Beirut neighborhood of Geitawi. Developed in collaboration with a co-mapper in Beirut, this thesis also adds to the conversation around international research in the age of COVID-19. The findings indicate that changed views on modern architecture are surfacing during the reconstruction efforts. These changes represent an initial apogee of an effort twenty years in the making to increase the knowledge of the modern heritage in the city. They are mirrored in current efforts to safeguard, document and revalorize the modern heritage in the city, both on an institutional and a popular level, thus representing the beginning of a wider shift in the view on architectural heritage in the city.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Bou Akar, Hiba
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 13, 2021