„So you need to increase affordable shelter. And the increase of shelter in different areas, in different ways.“
Mona Fawaz, Professor for Urban Planning and Policy Program at the AUB
Urban refugees are persons who were forced to flee from the place where they used to reside and found refuge in an urban area, be it in another country (refugees) or in their own country (Internally Displaced Persons – IDPs).
More than half of the refugee and IDP population worldwide is now living in urban areas, these populations have attracted a level of attention that has clearly not matched their number.
The international community’s engagement has focused on the management of camps and settlements in rural areas, giving little attention to the plight of urban refugees and IDPs.
In the future, more and more refugees will be trying to survive in cities and towns.
Unlike a closed camp, cities present obvious opportunities to stay anonymous, make money, and build a better future.
More than 80 % of refugees live without residence permit in Beirut. They are forced to work illegally in precarious conditions. The protection space in very limited as the country is not signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Shelter is a major issue for the Syrian refugees.
Only 2% of Syrian respondents to the Global Communities survey reported sharing with Lebanese.
UNHCR reports 62.72% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are living in apartments or houses.
11.42% live in tents, 9.91% in unfinished houses, 7.54% in garages/shops, 3.23% in worksites and 2.37% in collective centers.
The poorest sheltering conditions were found in collective centers and Informal Tented Settlements lacking adequate protection against outside elements. Residents report flooding, leaking roofs and no insulation from the cold. In winter months these conditions are all the more extreme with dropping temperatures and increased precipitation.
syrien refugee trend
amount of syrian refugees
distribution of registered syrian refugees
Over the past half century, Beirut’s urban landscape has undergone great change.
Aside from population growth and mass urbanization, a 15-year Civil War exacted a frightful toll on the urban fabric. The reconstruction that follows prolonged civil conflict invariably has an impact upon a city’s architectural patrimony. Coupled with reconstruction is property development. Since the Civil War was concluded in 1990, construction firms have razed numerous historic structures to make way for more profitable high-rises.
For those who prize the charming grace of historic buildings and the leafy neighborhoods where they’ve resided, such development is an affront to the city’s heritage.
According to the Association for the Protection of Lebanese Heritage, Beirut was home to 1,600 Ottoman, Mandate and Modernist structures in the 1990s. Today, there are about 200.
building styles building condition building high
Finally the first models are finished. The focus lies on the topografie. One model shows the whole city. The other one shows the researched areas, the vacancy and the selected sides.
Beirut, a city drawn by its history. Signs of the war, ruins as well as voids. The political situation brings more and more refugees into the city, often on the streets.
Our idea is, that the refugees act in these spaces, that the cultural heritage will be kept and that the city still tells stories – from the past, the present and about the future. A drama about everyday live with the facades as a setting.
“The focus should be on creating decent work opportunities through actions that regulate informal labour.”
Frank Hagemann, International Labour Organization Regional Office for Arab States
Syrian refugees are part of daily life in Beirut. They are looking for housing, work and integration. Many of them are living on the streets and find shelter in abandoned buildings.
We selected three sites to show how to integrate syrian refugees into the urban environment. The selected houses differ from each other in size, ornamentic and typology. They are also spacially divided from each other and show different status of decay.
Instead of keeping old heritage buildings, modern and expressionless buildings are seen more and more within the city. It is problematic, because the masterplan and the current rental law force the development to demolish buildings instead of restore them.