In 1992, the Municipality of Beirut and the Regional Council of Île-de-France signed a cooperation agreement that included funding the redesign of Beirut’s Park ‘Horsh Al-Sanawbar’ through a design competition. Since then, the park has been closed to the public except for minor trial periods and on the basis of obtaining special entry permits. In 2009 and based on previous award-winning research, DISCURSIVE FORMATIONS and with the financial assistance of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung – Middle East launched an action-based research effort to document the status of Beirut’s park and public space and to bring back the park to public memory and the public debate sphere. The outcome was a multidisciplinary critical research, a reference book and a media campaign.
At the Edge of the City
Reinhabiting Public Space toward the Recovery of Beirut’s Horsh Al-Sanawbar
(Visit Book Website)
The collaborative work is a critique of urban governance and spatial production in Beirut, which builds on historical accounts of Beirut’s park, Horsh Al-Sanawbar, and employs multidisciplinary analysis in reading the complexities of its closure. Rather than looking at the park as an isolated, recreational, urban program, the work conceptualizes the park as a continuation of the city’s cultural and infrastructural landscapes. The work covers issues of space & place, memory, citizenship, social practices, urban governance, activism, environment, discourse and design.
The making of the book was a laborious undertaking that required dedicated efforts of all its 34 collaborators. The project started with an awareness of the imperative nature of communicating research to a wide audience and of informing political change avenues with contemporary empirical findings and conceptual frameworks.
The work is presented, exhibited and debated widely in Beirut, mainly at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy & International Affairs (AUB), the Lebanese American University, the Lebanese University, the Polypod Creative Series, and the Festival of Lebanese Art Books. Also, the book has been reviewed and featured in the media and hosted at the This Is Not A Gateway Festival 2010 in London.
- Title: At the Edge of the City: Reinhabiting Public Space toward the Recovery of Beirut’s Horsh Al-Sanawbar
- Collaborators: Alicia Denris, Bachar Al-Amine, Bassam Chaya, Bilal Khbeiz, Danny Khoury, Darine Choueiri, DGA, Fadi Shayya, Fouad Asfour, François Eid, Ghassan Maasri, GIS/Transport, Giulia Fiocca, Grégoire & Serge Serof, Guylaine Raphael, Hala Al-Amine, Hanin Ghaddar, Hussein Yaakoub, Imad Gemayel, Jana Nakhal, Jean-François Pirson, Lama Sfeir, Lana Salman, Lasse Lau, Lina Abou Reslan, Marwan Rechmaoui, Nada Bakri, Nada Habis-Assi, Nancy Hamad, Now Lebanon, Rana Andraos, Rola Idris, Salman Abbas, Samar Kanafani, Sara AbouGhazal, SPNL, Sumayyah Samaha, Tara Mahfoud, The Daily Star
- Foreword: George Arbid
- Editor: Fadi Shayya
- Medium: Book
- Year: 2010
- Art Direction: Fadi Shayya & Danny Khoury
- Design: Danny Khoury
- Publisher: DISCURSIVE FORMATIONS, Beirut
- Financial Support: Heinrich Böll Stiftung – Middle East Office
- Attached: Poster by Danny Khoury and DVD by Lasse Lau
- Details: 192 pages, ISBN 978-9953-0-1537-8