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.