As the end of the year draws near, we would like to share Design for Communities’ 2022 work and progress, and 2023 goals and ambitions. The success of D4C is based on building strong relationships with donors and partners. Over the past year we have added new team members and developed various sustainable community-based projects across Lebanon. Our passion in supporting young architects to design and innovate at the service of affected communities, remains strong and at the heart of our work. To this day, we have trained and mentored 50 young professionals and served more than 1000 vulnerable households across Lebanon.
What we have achieved
This year has been filled with a multitude of both challenges and opportunities. However, in a country in crisis like Lebanon, architects can play a major role in the sustainable development of their society. Through empowering young professionals and developing their sense of civic engagement, we have enhanced the living conditions of vulnerable communities for the upcoming years.
The project aims to promote environmental justice and social inclusion in the Chiyah area. It aims to empower 25 women through providing facilities that allow them to grow their own food. The facility design proposes user friendly and modular farming units through the adaptation of a scaffolding system. Women can engage in growing herbs and vegetables and interact socially with the community. The scaffolding system can be adjusted and customized according to the needs of each user taking into consideration people with disabilities. Also, it optimizes local agricultural production in urban areas.
The Social Circus project proposal was designed by young professionals with the supervision of D4C experts to create an enabling environment for mental wellbeing. The Social Circus refers to the use of circus art as a medium for self-improvement, social skills and wellbeing to improve the psychosocial situation of disadvantaged children and young people in underprivileged areas. It is a mobile demountable structure that could be moved throughout Lebanon to different locations based on the needs of the community and allows circus activities, training and performances to be delivered in it.
The ‘Nafas’ project mentioned in the 2021 Newsletter was approved by Beirut municipality after a long period of negotiations for the building permits. The multi-functional community center is located at the heart of Karantina, one of the most affected Beirut neighborhoods by the blast in 2020. Through a versatile program that will be offered by different NGOs, the center will become the prime destination for the local community. It will provide programs and activities based on their needs. The project is a design collaboration between D4C and the Beirut Urban Lab (BUL) and construction start is slated for January 2023 with the support of Fondation De France, La Guilde, Cités Unies and Toufic Mouawad Initiative.
The Al-Rassif project proposal is addressing one of Beirut’s old busy streets: Ibn Rushed. The project’s aim is to enhance and upgrade the streetscapes of Ibn Rushed street. It will provide inclusion, accessibility and mobility within the street and will enhance the social practices of the inhabitants, business owners and workers living in the area, thus improving the social cohesion between community members .
Partnership and Outreach
In 2022, D4C worked on setting new partnerships with local and International NGOs to increase the brand awareness within the NGO’s ecosystem in Lebanon. We have joined the Social Stability Working Group under “Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP)” and the “Lebanon Humanitarian Development Forum (LHDF)”. This will allow us to partner and collaborate with different NGOs for designing or implementing projects across Lebanon. Our relationship with donors was also continuously reinforced with various progress meetings on the projects they are funding, especially addressing challenges related to finances. As mentors and young professionals, our expertise is in designing and constructing spaces that improve the wellbeing of their users and affect their sense of belonging to their communities, neighborhoods and cities. Our partnerships complement our work in providing specific programs that address the needs of the communities such as capacity and peace building, psychosocial support, up-skilling and others.
As part of expanding our reach, we were happy to be invited to be part of a panel discussion under Fantasmeem funded by Goethe institute to discuss the relation between design, cultural colonialism and sustainability.
In addition, we organized on December 8th, 2022, our first Annual Gathering where more than 50 friends, partners, donors and academics gathered in Barzakh Library in Hamra to share information on Design for Communities projects and activities and network with the D4C community.
Vision and Strategic Path
In 2021, we established our vision and strategic path. This year was instrumental in building our business model, developing our financial sustainability and working on our four strategic priorities: organizational structure, partnerships, educational programs and community-based projects. Policies and procedures were developed to align fully with international standards of NGOs, on the human resources level, the financial aspect and the relationships with donors and partners. Through the Tabadol program, we took capacity building sessions to strengthen our organization. D4C’s o ices were reorganized to allow students, interns and professionals to collaborate freely and engage in developing innovative sustainable community-based programs and projects. We also expanded the team and hired a communications officer and extended our board to additional members: Bashir Kallas joined as treasurer, as well as Architect Raed Abi Llamaa. The sta team expanded with the addition of two junior architects who started as interns and became team leads for various architectural projects.
In 2023, we aim to expand our educational program to involve more young professionals and encourage universities across Lebanon to adopt our mentorship program at their Architectural Departments or faculties.
Our partnerships, and exposure to our expertise will also be essential in creating opportunities such as consultancies among others to allow young professionals to develop and implement other projects that would serve communities around us.
The progress towards achieving our strategic priorities will continue as we will elaborate a more developed business model to ensure the financial sustainability of the organization over the next few years.
Hence, as we approach the joyous celebration of Christmas and New Year, we would like to take a moment to thank you for your kindness and support and we urge you to come forward and support Lebanon and our work!