Who are we
Public Works is a multidisciplinary research and design studio that engages critically and creatively with a number of urban and public issues in Lebanon.
Through collaborating with a network of professionals ranging from historians and journalists to artists and filmmakers, the studio initiates research projects that study, shape and implement counter strategies to urban planning and policy making in Lebanon. The studio also offers commissioned professional services in graphic design, architecture, consultancy, development planning and research within a communal work environment.
Public Works was founded in 2012 by architect / urbanist Abir Saksouk and designer / urbanist Nadine Bekdache, and is currently registered as a non-commercial Civil Company. It balances between commissioned work and self-initiated projects, an autonomous framework that allows for new possibilities of discussion, exchange and engagement to emerge.
We acknowledge the political and social dimensions of our respective professions. As architects and urban planners we revive, defend and produce socially-inclusive and sustainable spaces. As graphic designers we create and produce accessible and socially-relevant representations for public circulation.
Our previous involvement in research projects testifies to a major rift between the inclusiveness and equality we strive for and the harsh realities of urban politics.
In an effort to bridge this rift, the production and dissemination of knowledge in the Arabic language are central to our work, as tools that actively contribute to shaping public opinion around spatial and urban issues. Such knowledge is also critical for influencing policy-making and to engage dwellers as informed and active agents within their lived environments.
As such, our work and the research we initiate are rooted in the belief that all dwellers have the right to play an active role in creating the future of their desired city. Our projects aim to forge possibilities that make urban planning a democratic process where ordinary citizens can understand, judge and take decisions to make interesting, viable and just spaces.
Abir Saksouk, Public Works co-founder and co-director
Abir graduated as an architect in 2005, and later did her masters in Urban Development Planning. She has been involved in several research projects in Lebanon, including the history of informal suburbs and the social production of shared spaces in the city. She produced related publications, such as "This Sea Is Mine" and “Making Spaces for the Public: The Story of the Beirut's Dalieh”. Her interests include exploring how community engagement could be employed in planning and actively shaping the future of cities. She is also co-founder of Dictaphone Group (2009).
Nadine Bekdache, Public Works co-founder and co-director
Nadine is a practicing designer and urbanist. She researches socio-spatial phenomena through multidisciplinary methods; including mapping, imagery and film as both processes of investigation and representation. She is the author of “Evicting Sovereignty: Lebanon’s Housing Tenants from Citizens to Obstacles”. As part of her research on the implications of rent control on urban change and the processes of eviction in Beirut, she co-directed “Beyhum Street: Mapping Place Narratives”. She is also a graphic design instructor at the Lebanese University.
Monica Basbous, Research and Project Manager
Monica is an architect, designer and urban researcher. She holds a MSc. in Architecture and Sciences of the City from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. She likes to observe and analyze anything that happens on a boring day, and finds comfort in identifying patterns between disconnected things. Her focuses have included urban mobility, informal spatial practices and the politics and representations of space. Her work utilizes multiple media including mapping, writing and illustration. Monica teaches architectural design at the Lebanese American University and is a researcher and project manager in Public Works.
Zakaria Nasser, Administration and Financial Manager
Zakaria has been involved in queer spaces and organizing since 2008. He likes to focus his energy on exploring peer to peer support and collaboratively organizing outside community building framework. For bread and sugar he likes to do logistics, finance, auditing preparations and administrative annoying tasks. He Finds comfort in working with invoices and bank statements. Likes to cook and he is owned by two cats.
Maissa Kassir, Researcher
Maissa studied architecture in ALBA & graduated in ENSAPB Paris, followed by a year of urban sociology in EHESS, Paris. She worked in architecture and urbanism agencies. She has been working as a researcher with Public Works for 3 years on football fields research project along with rental mapping project doing most of the field work in Badawi, Roum, Tariq Jdide, Moussaitbeh and Ras Beirut areas.
Majd graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts at Damascus University. He works as a film director and producer.
Majd is a systems design engineer focusing on the role of technology in urban systems and policy design. He experiments with implementing tools and infrastructures that catalyze social change.