Ras Beirut: Housing Narratives in the City

October 2017 - January 2018

Over the past 150 years Ras Beirut has changed from an agricultural community to a dense urban neighborhood, particularly distinguished for its social, economic and cultural diversity. This diversity is however increasingly threatened by rapid urban transformations; its run-down residential buildings are being demolished, and their longtime residents displaced, and replaced by high-end luxury towers catering for a global financial elite. Through a research workshop, we produced a book about the housing landscape in Ras Beirut from a historical perspective, linking it to current challenges of access to affordable housing in the city.

Abir Saksouk
Majd al-Shehabi
Monica Basbous
Maissa Kassir
Nadine Bekdache

Tala Alaeddine, Rana Bachir, Karim Sakr, Nancy Nasreddine, Fatmeh Alayan, Sarah Nasser, Samira Kojok, Ayman Hussayni, Jamal Malak, Fadila Hanouf, Sherine Assaf, Muhyeddine Shuhaimi, Tawfiq Sayegh, Missan Nasser, Fatmeh al-Haji, Pamella Moawad, Edgard Barakat, Eva Zaidan, Maria Monther, Hiba Farhat, Nadine Khoury, Hiba Hoteit, Habib Battah


AUB Neighborhood Initiative

  • Video of the public debate held at Dar Musawer in January 2018.
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Throughout the Ras Beirut workshop, we led a collective experience in  fieldwork research and in the discussions discussion that followed, and we got to closely investigate the neighborhood of Ras Beirut, to understand it through the stories of its residents, and to learn about its history, formation, land ownership and other planned real estate projects in the neighborhood. The workshops were designed to analyze all materials and emerging narratives, input data on open source maps and contribute to the development of the Beirut Housing Monitor.

The research focused on Hamra area, the residential and commercial hub that has gradually acquired the status of a vibrant commercial and entertainment hub. We specifically focus on the area stretching from Bliss Street to Hamra Street, Abdul Aziz and Sadat Street.

The project resulted in a book that presents the housing landscape in Ras Beirut from a historical perspective, by linking it with the current modes of accessing housing and the challenges faced by residents to maintain decent housing in the neighborhood. We invite everyone to interact with this book (can be downloaded in the list of attachments) and contribute to discussions on the topics it raises, so that we can participate in the future of the city, where the hopes of the majority of the population outweigh private interests. Our collective experiences have shown that knowledge production and information dissemination are the basis for elaborating alternatives. We hope that this book will be the beginning of more interactions with people and places, and for more untold stories.