Photographic Survey

Heritage is not only preserving one or two buildings of architectural significance. It is, even more importantly, preserving environments, clusters, and urban fabrics as a whole. Preservation is also preserving the setting in which buildings are born. Especially when that setting is coherent and is the testimony of a certain period with a particular, specific, architectural production. A cluster such as the Hekmeh-Mar Mikhayel neighborhood, is made of buildings of the same period, but of varying quality, architectural worth and heritage value. However they should all be preserved, because destroying half of them because they are not of the typical three-arched-type would mean disfiguring the entire street. In the hekmeh-Mar Mikhayel cluster, not all buildings are of the same architectural value, when each is taken individually. However they all together constitute an ensemble, that is diverse but coherent and that represents a period of Beirut’s urban narrative, in all its diversity.

Most of the buildings in the Hekmeh and Mar Mikhayel neighborhoods date from the beginning of the 20th century, from Ottoman and Mandate times. Most were built in the 1920’s, while a significant number of them are agricultural buildings from the 19th century. This area is one of Beirut’s last largely intact urban cluster from the 1920’s and probably the last where rural buildings, testimonies of an agrarian past, remain. The many gardens and orchards, of a type typical of Beirut, gather acres of century-old trees of many kinds. The cluster is organised around a system of slow paced streets, alleys, dead-ends and public stairs that descend the side of the Achrafieh hill. In the whole of Beirut, it is the largest and most intact hill-side system of agricultural terraces, stairs and houses embeded in the slope, in a village-like atmosphere. 

The following maps show, in red, the buildings that were already present in 1926 and that are still present today. 65% of the buildings and 50% the gardens date from before 1926. The neighborhood qualifies, without a doubt, as a cluster that needs to be preserved.

A cluster from the 1920’s

A neighborhood of orchards and many gardens

An organic urban fabric of stairs and alleys

The following photographic survey aims at showing the character, the atmosphere, the diversity and the architectural coherence of the Hekmeh-Mar Mikhayel neighborhoods. To show the value of the neighborhood as a whole, as a cluster. The survey extends beyond the areas directly impacted by the highway project, to show the great coherence and continuity of the urban fabric, a coherence that the highway project “Hekmeh-Turk” axis (Fouad Boutros road) would dramatically destroy.

An organic fabric of alleys, stairs and dead-ends

Salah Labaki street – To be demolished

Alley starting from Moutran Moubarak street – to be demolished

Close-by, Al-Khazinein street

Alley starting from Salah Labaki street

Alley starting from Trois Docteurs street – To be demolished

Trois Docteurs street

Alley starting from Hopital Orthodoxe street

Stairs from Trois Docteurs street to Salah Labaki street

Stairs from Salah Labaki street to Armenia street

“Massaad” stairs from Al-Khazinein street to Armenia street

The Orchard
Note the words of Elie Helou, chief engineer at the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), in charge of the project:

“The flora and fauna are virtually nonexistent. There are a few trees in the area, no water tables.” 

Really Mr. Helou? Check for yourself :

The Orchard
Credits : Habib Battah

The Orchad – To be demolished

988792_10151904735722121_1037626624_n

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Naji Assi)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Naji Assi)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Naji Assi)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Naji Assi)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Habib Battah)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Habib Battah)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Habib Battah)

The Orchard – To be demolished
(credits : Habib Battah)

The many gardens

A private garden – To be demolished
(credits : Habib Battah)

A private garden – To be demolished
(credit : Habib Battah)

A series of domestic gardens – To be demolished

A private garden 

A private terrace – To be demolished

A private terrace – To be demolished

A private garden

A gardened alley
(credits : Habib Battah)

A private garden
(credits : Naji Assi)

A series of private gardens – To be demolished

19th century Ottoman period houses

19th century ottoman period palace – Endangered
(credits: Naji Assi)

19th century ottoman period house – To be demolished

19th century ottoman house cluster – To be demolished

19th century ottoman period palace

19th century ottoman period house
(credits : Roger Moukarzel)

mid-19th century ottoman period house
Demolished in 2014

19th century ottoman period house – To be demolished

Early 20th century ottoman period house

19th century ottoman period house and shop

19th century ottoman period house
Demolished in 2012

Early 20th century, mandate period appartment buildings

Mandate period appartment building on Armenia street
(credits : Naji Assi)

Mandate period appartment building on Armenia street – To be demolished

Mandate period appartment building on Salah Labaki street – Endangered

Mandate period appartment building

Mandate period appartment building on Armenia street – To be demolished

Mandate period appartment building on Al-Khazinein street

Mandate period appartment building on Hopital Orthodoxe street

Mandate period appartment building on Sagesse street – To be demolished

Mandate period appartment building on Salah Labaki street

19th century rural buildings from Achrafieh’s agragrian past

Orchard stone shack – To be demolished

“Beit natour” type building, built to protect fields from thieves – Endangered

Mid-19th century Rural house – To be demolished

Mid-19th century Rural houses – To be demolished

Mid-19th century Rural houses – To be demolished

Mid-19th century Rural house – To be demolished

Mid-19th century Rural house – To be demolished

Details, moods and people

To be demolished

To be demolished

To be demolished

To be demolished

To be demolished

To be demolished – To be expelled

IMG_7583

To be expelled

To be demolished

To be demolished

To be expelled

To be expelled

To be demolished

To be demolished

To be demolished – To be expelled

 

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