Does your university as a body build on brownfield sites, where possible ?

The Faculty of Architecture - Design and Built Environment at Beirut Arab University participated in Beirut Urban Declaration Conference for restoration of afflicted areas after the huge explosion that occurred on August four. The conference was organized by the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut in cooperation with the Faculties of Architecture in Lebanon whereby this event came after long preparations and workshops in addition to direct field work which started directly after Beirut Port explosion on August 4, 2020.

Since then, Professor Ibtihal El-Bastawissi, the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture- Design and Built Environment, has worked within the organizing committees of the Deans of Faculties of Architecture for Beirut Urban Declaration which included five sessions. She invited a group of university professors from various faculties to participate in all aspects of conference activities in coordination with the Dean of Faculty of Human Sciences, Professor Mayssah El-Nayal. Professor El-Bastawissi also participated in a workshop organized by the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut in cooperation with the French government, UNESCO and the International Union of Architects (UIA) in order to achieve this declaration.

The university had interventions in more than one session in the conference where Professor Hassan Hallak gave a lecture entitled "The Economic and Social Role of the Beirut Port," in which he talked about the history of the development of Beirut Port and its economic and social impacts on the city.

Dr. Khaled Sadek gave a lecture under the title of "The Urban Fabric of Beirut between History and the Present" in which he dealt with the development of Beirut's urban fabric during the historical eras that the city has gone through. He mentioned the human values that the city has acquired, which are based on reverence of freedoms, respect of intellectual pluralism and openness to different civilizations.

In the fourth session, Dr. Hiba Mohsen gave a lecture entitled "Rehabilitation and Restoration of Damaged Heritage Buildings", in which she discussed the importance of preserving the heritage and the risks that threatens it, in addition to several proposals for the rehabilitation and construction of old neighborhoods.

In the second day, Dr. Khaled Sadek gave another lecture under the title of "Legislative Frameworks for Reconstruction Management", during which he presented the reality of legislation and the mechanisms available for reconstruction.

A field survey project concerning the public safety and the damaged buildings was launched under the auspices of the Governor of Beirut City, Judge Marwan Abboud, at the Order of Architects and Engineers on the 12th of August 2020. This meeting gathered all the related public and private institutions including the mayor of Beirut, Eng. Jamal Itani, the president of the syndicate, Jad Tabet, the general director of Heritage, Mr. Sarkis Khoury, in addition to a large number of engineers and representatives of the concerned authorities of the reconstruction and planning.

During these meetings with the Lebanese authorities, the Faculty Dean focused on the necessity of coordination between all the sectors of the Lebanese society, including universities that can play a major role to overcome this disaster the soonest possible. In addition, she emphasised on the need to pay great attention on restoring the damaged heritage based on scientific principles and taking advantage of specialist’s experiences as a part of preserving the architectural identity of our cities. This requires gathering all the efforts of academic staff, students and specialists within a comprehensive strategy plan to survey all the damages using geographic information system (GIS), which will be achieved by the OEA.

Accordingly, Prof Ibtihal confirmed putting all the capabilities of the Faculty, professors and students, as well as the BAU Urban lab facilities and expertise. She also stressed on the importance of studying the existing situation of the historic buildings in the affected areas, the methods of protecting them, and the ways of preserving distinct architectural character of the region while developing the needed studies necessary for reconstruction of the city.