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Negotiations of space, perceptions and strategies in the urban projects of Beirut's Southern Suburbs reconstruction

Abstract : The control and appropriation of space has been an important dimension of urban planning in the late 15 years in Beirut. It appears particularly in two large reconstruction projects, both located in the southern suburbs of Beirut, inhabited by a population mostly Shiite Muslim and dominated by Hezbollah, and both elaborated in a context of tension between the Lebanese government majority and the Party of God.

After the civil war, in the beginning of the 1990s, a huge governmental urban reconstruction project of Planning and Development of Beirut's South Western Suburbs, named Elyssar, was elaborated during a three years negotiation between Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the Shiite parties Amal and Hezbollah. The project's decisions, whether uncontested or resulting from compromises, depended on both the actors' strategies and their perceptions of the city. This paper shows how political and strategic dimensions were used during its elaboration. It brings to the light the important spatial and political consequences that the official agreement on Elyssar has had until now, even though the core of the project has never been implemented.

The forms and practices of spatial negotiation identified in Elyssar lighten the recent project of reconstruction of Haret Hreik, named Waad. Set up after the July 2006 war, this project aims to reconstruct a large majority of apartments buildings destroyed during the Israelis raids in Beirut South Eastern suburbs. It was elaborated and launched by Hezbollah as a private company, independent from the government, and started to be implemented, meanwhile the government planned the reconstruction of infrastructures and gave compensations to the owners for their destroyed apartments, with the support of international donors. Despite different projects and political contexts, some intersections between these two projects illuminate the current period. It brings out the changes and continuities of actors' perceptions and strategies of control and appropriation of space, looking again into the role of urban planning in stirring up or appeasing political tensions and, in exchange, into the use of confrontation in projects implementation.
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Contributor : Valérie Clerc <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 11:56:16 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 6:22:19 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 7:32:19 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00367068, version 1



Valérie Clerc. Negotiations of space, perceptions and strategies in the urban projects of Beirut's Southern Suburbs reconstruction. Negociation of Space: The Politics and Planning of Destruction and Reconstruction in Lebanon, Jun 2008, Oxford, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-00367068⟩



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