Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Redesigning Informal Beirut: Shaping the Sustainable Transformation Strategies

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Abstract:  Lebanon is distinguished by its strategic geographical location among the Arab countries. Beirut, as the capital city and the major commercial and cultural centre of the country, is a point of interest for migrants. The region has witnessed many changes since the end of World War II, which have resulted in internal and external conflicts, migrations, the centralization of the country’s economy, etc. Furthermore, the city has witnessed many periods of urbanization, destruction, reconstruction, and regeneration, which has contributed to the complex nature of the city’s population and a blurring of the boundaries between settlements which are quite different in their natures. As a result, Beirut has become a home to mixed communities and societies of different origins and natures. The extensive inflow of migrants combined with economic crises has contributed to the appearance of informal settlements. They are located in different areas of the city and its surroundings, known as Greater Beirut. These settlements face various challenges, including spatial organization, socioeconomic standing, and environmental concerns. The current situation in Lebanon (resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic combined with the 4th of August 2020 blast in the port of Beirut) makes these challenges even more appalling. Some of the key issues discussed in this article are associated with the origin, current state, and prospects for improving the urban quality of these informal settlements considering their unplanned development and underused potentials. The article includes an inventory and speculates about the best possible strategies derived from three local interventions which are based on published reports. These examples represent rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in different cities in Lebanon. They can be applied to the specific situation of Beirut, given the variety of possible contexts there. The authors’ initial intention is to deal with the possible scope of the physical improvement in these settlements which will lead to socio-economic and environmental development and will also include possible ways of reinventing Beirut’s urban structure.

Keywords:  Beirut; complex city; immigrants; informal settlements; sustainable development; urban transformation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i1.4776


© Piotr Lorens, Dorota Wojtowicz-Jankowska, Bahaa Bou Kalfouni. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.