Emerging Border Conditions in Eurasia
MSc3/4 Graduation studio
Tutor: STEFANO MILANI
Built on a rocky promontory extended into the Levantine coast of the Mediterranean Sea and protected from the West by Mount Lebanon, Beirut is an important financial centre in the Middle East and a hub of migrants and political refugees, leading to chronic political destabilization. Constantly at the interplay of local and global forces and events, Beirut incarnates the region's political, sectarian, religious, and ethnic fragmentation. The socio-political conflicts and forms of urban coexistence act without ever reaching moments of stability and inexorably marking the urban and territorial space. The city has notoriously thrived through many destructions and reconstructions, leaving traces that define the city’s identity – in these cycles, the fate of this beautiful city appears to be inscribed where urban life consumes itself through moments of hedonism and tragedy.
The Belt and Road Initiative and its economic and infrastructural implications are still in fieri in the region, like everywhere else, and they are only one of the many threads interweaving Beirut’s complex geopolitical fabric. And yet, this broader approach to the city will reveal the space for the research of alternative and unexpected possibilities for the city and its future beyond those produced by well-informed urban studies centred on the post-war which have become an academic genre self-perpetuating and spiralling inside a creative deadlock.
(Nota) The idea to work on Beirut originated in spring 2020. It was already a controversial choice due to the difficult economic situation of the country and inaugurating a new season of social unrest. After the tragic event of last August when the explosion of a large amount of ammonium nitrate negligently stored in the port destroyed a large section of the city, this choice seemed inoperable and, above all, indiscrete. Additionally, the post-explosion would have led to a sensationalist and distorted approach to this unfortunate yet extraordinary city. Eventually, the fact that there seems to be never a suitable time for Beirut persuaded us to continue with the idea. Perhaps Beirut reveals to us precisely this unique condition of the city: an eternal promise of hope.