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, Head of the Justice in Planning Unit & Research Director
Abir graduated as an architect in 2005, and later did her masters in Urban Development Planning. She is co-founder of Public Works Studio. Her primary focus includes urbanism and law, property and shared space, and right to the city of marginalized communities. She is active in exploring how local organizing could be employed in actively shaping the future of cities. Abir is also a member of the Legal Agenda and co-founder of Dictaphone Group.
Nadine Bekdache, Head of Right to Housing Unit & Design Director
Nadine is a practicing designer and urbanist, and co-founder of Public Works Studio. She researches socio-spatial phenomena through multidisciplinary methods; including mapping, imagery and film as both processes of investigation and representation. As part of her research on urban displacement, she authored “Evicting Sovereignty: Lebanon’s Housing Tenants from Citizens to Obstacles”, and co-directed “Beyhum Street: Mapping Place Narratives”. Nadine is also a graphic design instructor at the Lebanese University.
Tala Alaeddine, Researcher & Fieldwork Coordinator
Tala graduated with a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Lebanese University, Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts Branch II (2017), and received Academic excellence certificates and Scholarships from The Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development and the Lebanese American University. She joined Public Works Studio in 2017, and was involved in studying the master plans of 15 Lebanese regions, advocating for participatory approaches in planning. She also coordinated the international competition “Beyond cement”.
Jana Haidar, Researcher & Casework/Survey Coordinator
Jana is an architect and urban researcher. She completed her MA in Architecture at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts of the Lebanese University and has been working on projects covering the topics of national urban planning practices, housing policies and displacement, urban transformation, and history. Jana has been a part of Public Works Studio since 2017. She is also the creator of Beirut Architecture Tours that explores the urban planning history of Beirut.
Roland Nassour, Researcher and Community/Advocacy Coordinator
Roland is an architect and urban planner. He worked on projects aiming to revive streets and public spaces and contributed to various workshops on housing rights, urban pollution, and others. He is a co-founder of the Save the Bisri Valley campaign and the anti-dam movement in Lebanon. Roland holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Lebanese University (2015) and a Master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the American University of Beirut (2020)
Lama El Hajjar, Office and Finance Manager
Lama is an Economics graduate from Saint Joseph University, with over nine years experience in the banking sector.
She joined Public works midyear 2020 and currently oversees all areas of finance and administration. She also handles the Human Resources procedures.
Jana Mezher, Graphic Designer & Communication officer
Jana holds an MA in art direction from Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts - (ALBA).
She enjoys focusing her energy on exploring the city in its layers and excavating the forgotten stories within. Talk to her for hours about Anthropology, Politics, or History and she will not get bored. She is also a graphic design instructor at Beirut Arab University.
Imad Kaafarani, Graphic designer
Imad is an illustrator with a Bachelor in Graphic Design and Visual Communication from the Lebanese University. He thrives on making art in a variety of different forms including illustration, typography, animation, video and music.
Ramy Sabek, Caseworker
Ramy is a practicing Architect, holding a Bachelor in Architecture from BAU. His work focuses on human centered urban environments, urban mobility, data visualization, computational design, and advanced construction methods. He’s interested in community engagement in the design process, especially the stories each person/object tells, and how these shape a certain environment. He is currently a caseworker in the Housing Monitor project with Public Works.