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bahr el eid revival

Saida, Lebanon


DI-Lab, Department of Architecture and Design, American University of Beirut
Karim Najjar, Balsam Madi, Ahmad Nouraldeen
Nella Abi Khalil, Nirvana Kobeissi, Leen Nadar, Danielle Rafoul, Miriam Soltan, Aya Zantout, Sari Kantari, Jad Najm, Mohamad Nazar (Student Assistant)
Partners & Consultants
Civil Minds (Anwar Antoun)
SOSI / Saida Observatory for Social Impact

As one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, Sidon has an exceptionally rich and layered history. What was once a bustling Phoenician port city is now an internationally acclaimed historic center for trade and commerce. The Ottoman-era Souks welcome thousands of visitors each year, with rehabilitation projects contributing to the longevity of some of the city’s oldest landmarks. Khan el Franj and the Old Sea Fort most notably define the extremities of the historic city which is otherwise turned inwards for protection behind the city walls. With the old city having largely fallen into disrepair following exchanges in power and force during the world wars, the local community of craftsmen and migrant workers has since struggled to maintain the significance of some its most important sites and traditions. Bah El Eid is one such site. Traditionally used as festival grounds by the local community, the site originally stretched from the Khan down to the sea shore. Although cherished in the memories of some of Sidon’s oldest living generations, the site has since fallen into disrepair. Presently bound by the development of the coastal highway, Bahr el Eid now exists as a car park in the shadows of the Khan. Revived only during the annual Eid celebrations, the site has become overwhelmed by vehicular traffic and unmanaged waste. However, recent efforts by local NGOs to rehabilitate the waterfront have renewed interest in the site and its potential in reviving activity along the coast. To aid in the rehabilitation of such a historically and culturally significant site, DI-Lab teamed up with Saida Observatory to design the Bahr el Eid Revival Project.

Work started with design students from the American University of Beirut thoroughly researching the historical significance of the site and surrounding area. By teaming up with local experts and community members, students were able to piece together a comprehensive archive of photos and maps that successfully reflected memory and experiences in Bahr el Eid across generations. Respect of the site’s history and knowledge of its significance to the local community proved imperative in securing the team’s credibility and support for the project within the local community. This historical research was conducted in tandem with the surveying of contemporary site conditions. The site’s conversion into a car park for most of the year has allowed Bahr el Eid to fall largely into disrepair. However, local craftsmen and migrant workers continue to benefit from the prime location of the site and successfully create and sell their wares in the site’s vicinity. In an effort to minimize any unfavorable displacement of local activity, the DI-Lab team worked closely with the locals to reconcile the informality of such a large workforce with its proposal for the revival project.    Read More

Design for Communities (D4C Beirut)

Sadat Street, Aramouny Building, Floor 2
Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon


Organizer: Karim Najjar (Founder/President)
Ministry of Interior Affairs, Lebanon Reg. Nr. 2062