Metamorphosis of the Coast LineNajjar & Najjar
The most glaring example and primary precedent of this dynamic is the reconstruction of downtown Beirut and the massive landfills in the sea. The origin of the newly created properties that the downtown development project incorporates lie in the embankments created throughout the war: the city’s garbage and the demolition debris from destroyed buildings.
Looking at this example, we can come to better understand the ways in which wartime urbanization and postwar (reconstruction) urbanization represent more continuity than they do discontinuity. It is this very relationship between war-induced urbanization, reconstruction-justified urbanization, and the occupation of the coast that has produced the ongoing disappearance of beachfront public space. Hagop is a man in his fifties who used to frequently practice his hobby of fishing where the Movenpick Hotel is now located. According to Hagop, the place used to be called “Birkit al-Wahsh” (The Pool of the Beast) because there were large fish there that ate the small fish. He used to enjoy fishing there, until one day the Lebanese army turned the area into a military zone and began requiring a permit to access the area.
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