Monday, April 4, 2011

Beirut Cement Gardens

I was walking in downtown Beirut the other day, and I noticed the building site next to Virgin megastore: Beirut Gardens.
My face only lit up for half a second before i looked again and saw the large photographs of gym equipment and quickly realized that it was yet another luxurious residential complex in the city.

In the next two days, I started looking around and noted a trend: Noor Gardens in downtown as well , Eva gardens in Sofil area, Woodhill residence and Hamra gardens; all of them luxurious residential complexes.

The copywriters for these projects specifically chose names that revolve around greenery and gardens because they know that they are addressing a society deprived from public green spaces. They're using the lack of the urban green as a selling point to attract possibles investors and buyers to be wowed by the concept.

What horrifies me the most isn't just the way these towers are popping up like mushrooms with no control or urban planning (that's without even mentioning the number of beautiful old buildings getting erased on the way), but it's mostly the ironic way the've been tagged with green names. A portion of these spaces should be allocated to parks instead of being buildings. Well, at least they got the names right.

Beirut, Hamra and Eva Gardens, how about some real gardens ?
Woodhills residence, how about some real hills ?

On the Ministry of Environment website, their monthly poll question is: [Are you for the increase of forest spaces in Lebanon? yes. no. I don't know]

Well, i really don't know anymore. Usually, it would be ridiculous to even ask that question, but seeing how things are evolving in Beirut, maybe the ministry truly wants to know the answer ! It seems that not everybody understands the must to have green spaces in a city. It affects stress level and mental health and is a great way to relax in town in a public space ! Public green spaces are a right for us as citizens, not a privilege !
There should be a law that protects certain spaces, allocating them for public good.

If all spaces are being sold for more profit making buildings and complexes, where will we end up ?
I ask you now, where is our public space in Beirut today ?

So I'm inviting you now to join me on Saturday June 4th 2011, the weekend of World Environment Day, for a public street intervention: Green the Grey. We need public green spaces in Beirut.

We are going to take over Sassine Square at 4:30pm and make it our public green space for the day, to protest the lack of green and public spaces in Beirut. We will bring real grass, and other typical features of a park.
So come and enjoy the afternoon in our pop-up park, to voice that public green spaces are our right !

More details here. Hope to see you there !

No parking here Range !

aha ! These two cannot exist together !

The bulky metal structures on the sidewalks scream: do-not-park-here.
Yet, these Range Rovers didn't seem to understand what they were, and totally disregarded them on Tabaris Square this afternoon by parking there. Perhaps authorities should seek alternative additional signage and write : NO PARKING on them just like this person who wrote on the One way street sign ?