Mapping a City Onto Itself: A Note on the Reconstruction of Beirut Central District
17 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 7, 2013
The city of Beirut has been heavily destroyed during and after the civil war. A private company, Solidere s.a.l., attempts to rebuild the City Center in a way heavily contested by observers who fear the loss of the city's memory because of Solidere's focus on luxury offices, shops, and apartments. This paper reviews some aspects of the project in the light of its attempt to both surpass the sectarian lines dividing Beirut and to reorient the City Center and the town with it towards international networks within the Arab world and the Lebanese diaspora. Using a George Spencer-Brown modeling of Solidere to reconstruct the project with respect to second-order observers getting caught up within their mutual orientation towards each other the paper asks whether there is a chance to replace the city's altogether too narrow if understandable focus on the region's conflicts, big investors' money, and a street wary of one-sided advantages with an acknowledgement of Beirut's uncertain future. Such an acknowledgement, or so it seems, would have a rather more civilizing impact on the city than its current focus on the history of Beirut and its divergent memories.
Keywords: Beirut, Beirut City Center, city, form, observer, second-order observer, urbicide
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