Article published in the architectural Journal “Built Environment” in 2015.
This article explores suburban sprawl in Lebanon by analyzing zoning and building codes, topography and geography, urban composition, building types, social factors and building methods. Today, Lebanon is witnessing a severe case of suburban sprawl that has reached an unprecedented scale in the history of its urban development. During the past 25 years, the perpetuation of a specific building type in the Lebanese suburb: the multi-storey residential/commercial building (sometimes achieved by building vertically on the top of existing structures in order to accommodate multiple generations/families) has had a devastating effect on the natural environment as well as on the suburban aesthetic image. Although we are witnessing some attempts at municipal levels to counter this rapid and frantic expansion, these attempts remain idiosyncratic, scattered and lacking an appropriate vision as to how the current situation should be handled. This article discusses the financial history that played a part in advancing suburban sprawl in Lebanon and other major contributing factors that led to the current situation. It also projects a logical outline for a strategy that might address this phenomenon.