When we started talking about migration [as a conference theme], everybody said ‘don’t do it, it’s too controversial.’ We said that’s exactly why we’re going to do it.
This defiant attitude was how Martin Barry, Chairman of reSITE, opened their 2016 Conference in Prague three weeks ago. Entitled “Cities in Migration,” the conference took place against a background of an almost uncountable number of challenging political issues related to migration. In Europe, the unfolding Syrian refugee crisis has strained both political and race relations across the continent; in America, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has led a populist knee-jerk reaction against both Mexicans and Muslims; and in the United Kingdom—a country only on the periphery of most attendees’ consciousness at the time—the decision in favor of “Brexit” that took place a week after the conference was largely predicated upon limiting the immigration of not only Syrians, but also of European citizens from other, less wealthy EU countries.
In architecture, such issues have been highlighted this year by Alejandro Aravena’s Venice Biennale, with architects “Reporting from the Front” in battles against, among other things, these migration-related challenges. From refugee camps to slums to housing crises in rich global cities, the message is clear: migration is a topic that architects must understand and respond to. As a result, the lessons shared during reSITE’s intensive two-day event will undoubtedly be invaluable to the architectural profession.
On May 28, Beirut-based firm 109 Architectes unveiled Notes on a Tree at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture. The interactive installation is part of the GAA Foundation’s annual “Time – Space – Existence” exhibition and commemorates Lebanon’s lost public spaces.
Notes on a Tree tackles the role of the architect in countries like Lebanon, where developers often dictate urban planning. The firm uses its own projects as examples of successes and disappointments in preserving public space, which is symbolized by specific trees. Some trees were saved and some were lost, but each one represents a community’s history and collective memory.
City Debates 2016 stems from a relational and multi-scalar understanding of urban policy as an assemblage of ideas and tools that circulate and transform. We seek to examine how international aid promotes the mobility of urban policy ideas, and mobilizes a range of stakeholders, and technologies in the process. We explore these questions by investigating two sets of urban policies: regional planning, and refugee policies.
Leaders in Architecture MENA is dedicated to developing, celebrating and connecting architects, interior designers and senior decision makers from leading international architectural practices, contractors, developers, government officials, engineers and solution providers. Gathering the most senior industry professionals from across the world, the summit provides a unique opportunity to learn from and get inspired by leaders, luminaries, and legends from within and outside architecture, set future business plans and appreciate breathtaking and daring architecture.
"Within humanitarian responses, programmatically, children often become invisible." (Marc Sommers)
The Syrian crisis has forced thousands of families to leave their homes in search of safe places to continue with their lives. Many families have moved to Lebanon, where the UN has raised a series of informal settlements. While effective in providing shelter, they don't provide specific solutions for children, many of whom have had their studies interrupted and don't have public spaces equipped to play sports and interact with other kids.
In response to this situation, the architects of CatalyticAction have designed and built a playground in one of the schools developed by The Kayany Foundation and American University of Beirut's Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service, involving children throughout the entire process and allowing the structure to be easily disassembled, transported and either reassembled or repurposed.
Lebanese architecture practice PARALX has won the AIA in Los Angeles' Merit Design Award for its T3 high-rise tower in Beirut. The tower is a part of a larger development scheme in the burgeoning Beirut Digital District (BDD) that will include 12 buildings and over 150,000 square meters of office spaces, apartments, hotels, shops, and entertainment facilities.
T3 will host cafes and restaurants on the ground level, with residential apartments located throughout the upper floors, all targeted towards the creative class that is moving into the area labeled as “Lebanon’s Silicon Valley.”
The David Adjaye-designed Aishti Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon is nearing completion. Located in central Beirut, the building replaces former warehouses, housing both an art gallery and retail space. This unique “juxtaposition of art and shopping” inspired Adjaye and Associates “to create a design for an entirely new typology that would integrate two, often conflicting, worlds,” write the architects in a press release.
Developed from an idea by Publicomm, ARCHMARATHON is an International Architecture event that brings together 42 Architecture Design Studios in a unique and unprecedented format. The first edition took place in November 2014 in Milan and was a great success with the public and highly appreciated by the participants. After the tremendous success of this first edition, the FEDERATION OF LEBANESE ENGINEERS and Publicomm organize a special edition focusing on architects originally from the Arab and Mediterranean Countries. As a result, there will be a special edition held in Beirut, Lebanon from the 8th to the 10th of October 2015.
This edition of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, dives into Beirut Design Week exploring "what Lebanese designers can show the world." In this show Josh Fehnert examines why Domus have decided to start an academy in Milan, speaks to Dutch typographer Joep Pohlen about his ultimate type reference guide, and assesses some of the architectural similarities between Istanbul and London. While the likenesses are not immediately obvious, both cities are currently undergoing an unprecedented property boom. Istanbul, a city with no strategic masterplan, is growing fast and there are lessons to be learnt from London's comparatively porous urban realm.
The international response to the Syrian War has often struggled to deal with the sheer scale of the disaster; huge numbers of refugees find it difficult even to source the barest essentials for life in the enormous refugee camps that have sprung up in Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Alongside the overwhelming need for basics, longer term care for displaced Syrian citizens is also proving difficult, but CatalyticAction, a not-for-profit design studio who are in their own words "a group of young graduates who believe that small changes can realize a big impact," believe that this long-term provision is equally important, especially for children.
Providing a sense of normal life for children in the refugee camps is absolutely essential to helping them, and their families, to recover and cope with life as refugees, which this why CatalyticAction have begun crowdfunding the construction of a playground - designed with the help of refugee children - in the Lebanese town of Bar Elias. The playground would allow children to learn through play, provide a sense of normality and, importantly, should create a space that they feel safe in.