Beyond Cement:

Towards an Alternative Vision for Chekka and Surrounding Towns

September 2019 – June 2020

The towns of Chekka and Koura in North Lebanon have become prime examples of what public policies in Lebanon generate. The “Green Koura” in residents’ memories sat atop an abundance of groundwater and stretched along a seafront punctuated with fishing ports and salt basins. The transformation of the coastal and inland towns into cement factories, companies, and quarries brought about devastating social, economic, environmental, and health effects. This publication highlights the absence of any legal control to deter cement activity and production, and presents the winning alternative schemes for planning the area, as a result of an open ideas competition entitled Beyond Cement.

Due to the presence of cement factories and quarries on their lands, the residents of Chekka and the district of Koura have suffered multifaceted injustices for over half a century. It is therefore important to discuss viable alternatives that challenge the prevailing argument in favor of the cement sector’s role in local economic development and its significance in the national economy. In pursuit of this goal, we conducted field research in Chekka and Koura and held participatory discussions with residents, activists, and experts. To involve more people, encourage interaction, and push the issue to the national level, we partnered with the Order of Architects and Engineers in Beirut and the North and the Koura Municipalities Federation to launch the International Ideas Competition “Beyond Cement” in September 2019. The competition aimed at questioning the dominant patterns in development and land use, and gathering alternative and integrated solutions to the environmental, local economic, and urbanization problems in Chekka and the surrounding (Tawk) towns.

Read the full Article in Arabic here.


Abir Saksouk

Co-Director and Head of Research Department

Abir graduated as an architect in 2005, and later did her masters in Urban Development Planning. She is the co-founder of Public Works Studio. Her primary focus includes urbanism and law, property and shared space, and the 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 a co-founder of Dictaphone Group. 

Monica Basbous


Nadine Bekdache

Co-director and Head of Communication and Design Unit

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.


Imad Kaafarani


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.

Souheir Assi Mabsout


Tala Alaeddine

Research Unit Coordinator and Researcher

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. Her work focuses on land and housing issues in Lebanon, and includes studying and analyzing Lebanese regional masterplans, monitoring planning institutions practices, and advocating for participatory approaches in planning and reconstruction.

Construction Land Management and Planning Natural Resources Badbhoun Batroun District Chekka El Koura District Heri Lebanon North Lebanon Governorate