Role of Planning and Design in Turning a Culturally Divided City into an Inclusive Cosmopolis: Analyzing the Post-War Reconstruction in Beirut
by George Kassab | Supervisor: Claire Colomb, PhD
Civil wars can create physical and cultural divides within the same city and society. They are manifestations of divorced societies. As cities have the opportunities and potential roles in reuniting divorced societies after conflict, this paper presents a model on how urban planning and design processes can stimulate cross-cultural contacts, interactions and involvement of antagonists in discussions, in order to bridge existing internal fractures of culturally-divided societies. Looking at Beirut as a city and society divided across sectarian lines and places of origin, this paper analyses the case of post-Civil-War reconstruction in Beirut undergone by Solidere as a privatized urbanism of Beirut’s Central District. It shows how Solidere’s project, antithetical to the model presented, failed to reunite divided Beirut and reconcile the polarized cultural groups further ingraining existing socio-spatial divisions in Beirut and its periphery.