SYMBIOTIC BEINGS ON PURGATORIAL TERRITORY

The aim of this intervention is to re-establish the pre-existing ties between the city and the port creating a new system of relations and connectedness.
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Designer(s) : Soumar Al Kamand

University : Lebanese American University

Tutor(s) : Dr. Maroun El Daccache

Since the rise of Beirut in the eighteen century, the relation of the city to the port has been instrumental, prompted by the shift from an inland caravan city to a coastal city. From early times, the port and the city were in a Mutualistic relationship. By definition, Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship between two species in which both species benefit each other. In this context, the city was playing an instrumental role for the port such as providing, working forces, space… etc. and in return, the port constituted one of the major economic resources not only through the normal customs duties collected there but also through commercial activities, banking, insurance, transport that revolve around the port activities. Hence, the port and the city were somehow in need of each other for their growth and expansion. However, this symbiotic relationship started to change little by little, until it reached a point in which it drastically altered from Mutualistic to Parasitic, perfectly illustrated by the explosion that happened on August 4th. By definition, Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species (the parasite- in this case the port) benefits while the other species (the host-in this case the city) is harmed. The parasitical manifestation made us once again (re)think about the relation between the port and the city of Beirut on so many levels: Political, Livelihood, Collective memory, and Infrastructure.

Since its creation, the Port is considered one of the lucrative institutions due to different factors, such as (1) The Ubiquitous presence of primary resources and (2) being the largest free shipping and clearance point in the country. This had led to the formation of a fenced, barricaded, high-security area which cannot be accessed by any person, resulting in a free, out of public surveillance scene, that epitomizes the misgovernance and ineptitude. Additionally, due to its rapid transit function and its location, outside the limit of the city – in other terms outside the territorial memory of its citizens, the port can be considered a non-place in the city. According to Auge, the non-place bypasses the anthropological place and poses itself as a polar opposite to it. The non-place has” no history than the last forty-eight hours of news”, is not relational, you cannot identify yourself with anyone other than the space itself, and finally is not concerned with identity.

This intervention aims to re-establish the pre-existing ties between the city and the port creating a new system of relations and connectedness. The proposed project is a Maritime transportation hub that would complement the Charles Helou bus and Taxi station forming altogether an urban dynamic node within the urban fabric of the city transforming infrastructures necessities into gathering places for social interactions. Two main volumes, eight and twenty-three meters high, respectively hosting the national and international terminal, are positioned on the periphery served by a series of external ramps that tie and connect the various platforms and link them to the ground surface of the city, creating a continuation of the existing urban landscape, the waterfront and the different public activities happening on the ground floor. By doing so, the terminal is acting both functionally and spatially as a mediator between the urban environment and maritime activities and presents itself as a continuous extension of the city’s existing structure.