AIR-scape urbanism: Building Green 'Infrastructure'

In a previous blog entry ' Beirut is Ill' we established that for Beirut to become a healthy city and achieve the 10m2/person of public green space required by the World Health Organization it will have to destroy 41% of the existing city!

This is because The World Health Organization has established indicators for what makes a city healthy and it ultimately arrives at a statistic of 10 meter square of public green-space per person and 40 meter square of private green space per person. For more details about Beirut's numbers and how it compares to other cities please refer to blog entry 'Beirut is ill'  


Cities across the world are trying to meet these criteria in order to be included in the network of healthy cities. But these criteria ultimately reflect the European cities that they are drawn from, which were planned and designed after the Renaissance.
Moreover, the assumption that green space must accumulate into large-scale spaces in order to optimize public usage reflects a western stereotype of space utilization. 

Cities where public green spaces were not designed in adequate amounts need to address and  challenge the possibilities of inserting public green space. In the case of Beirut we need to dream BIG. Do we destroy or build for green?
Instead of demolishing, I Propose to grow and proliferate a green space from within the city. It accepts the density of Beirut and exacerbates it. It creates a new dimension of urban experience—airscape—which comes not from the clearing of history but from a new encounter with it. This productive green space is proposed as Beirut‘s second reconstruction, a productive stage for the city to improve its public health.

Green infrastructure DESIGN STRATEGY:

 Air rights are appropriated over the whole city.

  Public building and sites Roofs

Roofs of public & semi-public buildings are occupied for public roof gardens with side access. All public spaces in the city are also appropriated, including public sites (such as archaeological sites), public gardens (such as the three parks I showed earlier) and public buildings (such as mosques and churches). 

vertical links to public green roofs

This will create dispersed green rooftops that will not amount for more than a 0.5% increase in public green space. Therefor a green pedestrian network that connects them giving each neighborhood a pocket garden is encouraged.  There will have to be a vertical connection to the network every 250 meters.
These dispersed greens establish a datum over the city which traverses its political divisions.

Re-frame and Connect

This decline of traditional public park space is also opportunity for the rise of a new kind of green space—a productive green space, rather than a contemplative one.  The pathways are meant to be understood as a new and much needed infrastructure for the city that includes pedestrian pathways, bike lanes, pocket gardens, a possibility of an air train and most importantly a productive green space from which the neighborhoods may partially feed themselves.

The varying vegetation schemes in the city will generate and intensify a series of green surface experiences in the air creating a mini eco-system and present the paradoxical notion that as diversity increases both in nature and society so might  cohesion. 

Dreaming BIG about green infrastructure will result in large amounts of construction. Lets face it construction is not so green and so this will have to be a long term plan to move people up into a new type of transportation in the air (bike- air trains- pedestrian in green lines)  . By 2050 people might give up their cars and move-up into this mode of transportation. This might also then allow us to plant the ground. 


  1. Your work is truly fascinating, Sandra. I look forward to every new post :)

  2. Beautiful renderings, and great idea

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