The suburban image of Lebanon is rapidly disappearing, and changing to a systematically raised concrete jungle. The state of affairs leading to this current situation could be attributed to many factors, and it is easy to cast blame on war, corrupt politics, class segregation and so on. But building regulation occurs first and foremost on municipal level, in collaboration with the department of urban planning. Residents of Lebanese villages have a major say in what can and cannot be built within the boundaries of their municipal boarders.
Yet, it is not only a matter of zoning and building regulations. There is an existing condition that is unlikely to change anytime soon. The question becomes what are the steps that could be taken to counter this phenomenon. I personally am a bit disturbed by the growing organism that is invading our quaint villages. I will be posting some ideas here about possible solutions.
The first is probably a need to come up with an adequate building type to the Lebanese condition. Whereas many have argued against “type” per se in a contemporary world governed by profit and land speculation, residential typology is by far a necessary requirement. No matter what these arguments put forth, regulating the market through residential typology is one way to go about it. Typology gives character, as well as value to a streetscape. This new typology does not need to be traditional, even though it could. It can be modern, contemporary, or anything that would unify the architectural character of a village.
For those who argue against typology, probably the easiest answer is to say for them to look around them. Today, there is already a typology, albeit corrupt, yet nevertheless, a typology. The last 30 or 40 years have given rise to a built environment that has an anti-aesthetic cohesion, yet nevertheless, cohesion. The multifamily residential building type, the “bineyi” has occupied our environment.
A reaction has to be taken to counter this corrupt typology, and the answer is by providing a feasible alternative: an aesthetically responsible and socially engaging new typology.