Revolt Against Bladders Leash

Your Public right to a Public Toilet

"A nation is judged by its toilets, it's one of the first images tourists and visitors get and we should generally be ashamed in this country" stated Greed when discussing the case of the UK! Imagine what she would say about Beirut.

Did you ever walk anywhere or were driving and had to drive like a maniac to sneak into a coffee shop's toilet and exit shamefully? If you do not live in a 10 minute radius of any of your outings the chance is the answer to this question is yes. Where do you go and what do you do in Beirut when you need to use the toilet?

I decided to investigate this in one of our only public spaces in Beirut, the Corniche.

The case of Beirut’s Corniche

The Corniche is a seaside promenade offering visitors a view of the Mediterranean and the mountains. The Corniche a beautiful space that people in Lebanon can access and spend the day regardless of their economic backgrounds and their purchase ability. However this site lacks adequate public services that will facilitate your stay  for longer than an hour.

On Sundays and holidays the Corniche is packed and let’s face it it’s the only place in Beirut where people can spend the day without paying for entrance, seats, parking … During the week the Corniche is also congested with passersby that spend an average of an hour walking, sitting, contemplating. Couples meet there and of course the joggers during sunrise and sunset fill the space. Families that try to provide their children with a space to spend some time outside their apartments also frequent the Corniche after sunset during the week and all day during the holidays and Sundays.

Public toilet 1

Toilets on the Corniche

So I decided to first ask two young women seated  close to what I thought was the only public toilet in the area if they ever had the urge to use the toilet while on a visit. They looked up at me worried and thought I needed a toilet and said “oh I am so sorry but you should try to hold it in and if you are desperate there is a very dirty and smelly toilet just behind us in between the two streets.” I smiled nodded and thanked them.

MIXED TENURE : "بناية الأشباح “ The Ghosts Building"

Walking around Hamra today and seeing the new and under construction building stock I feel that we have already lost the social and economic heterogeneity in Hamra. Today the building stock is made up 220 to 350m2 net areas for each apartment. In addition each ‘high-end' apartment has its own core (elevator + staircase). The building law has set up through its formulas of allowable net and gross areas a homogeneous building stock for what used to be one of the most diverse areas in Beirut.

Original image taken as part of a research project in AUB 2003 with BASTA

The flowing is a snapshot of a mixed tenure building in Beirut.

X star narrative:

X star is nicknamed "بناية الأشباح “ , the ghosts building". There is a rumor that the walls speak and talk about the fleeting partitions, gazes, and the eroticism of friction, movement, proximity, contact, suspicion, and an attempt at obliviousness.

The three by three meter grid on the facade produced by the generic balconies and vertical concrete partitions entice the passer by with voyeuristic gazes from the semi transparent balcony doors. Different intensities of light, saturation of color, transparency, amount of laundry, and exhibited utilitarian objects, fragment the screen and hint at the invisible affairs of the separated partitions. The ephemeral is the myth of the building.

It is illegal to rent a room for less than a month. Yet that can happen. Prices may range from hour, day,  month

Its assembly has been composed due to the economic, political, and contextual pressures of Ain Al Mressieh, which had introduced the diverse users in one space. The context allows the ability for different users to exist with close proximity to each other, while still maintaining the capacity to define themselves, and shape their routine and movement; not only in reaction to the 'other' but also in relation to their existing habits. This makes the assemblage unique. Proximity does not enforce contact; and the characters traits create specific perceptions of their spaces in which they move around and engulf or are engulfed by them. The building seems to house misplaced individuals, all with different backgrounds, that occupy the space on the margins of the center. Fragments of contradictions, produce within the building a set of momentary veins (relationships), pulsing with emotions and reactions intoxicated by the constant redefinition of the 'other'.

Original image taken as part of a research project in AUB 2003 with BASTA
In between the structural grid and the endlessly repeated compartments, is a building, drunk by the life of its characters, creating architecture.

In the romanticizing of the building that encompasses and defies boundaries and zones that separate user groups, I find myself having introduced my fascination and intrigue with the social relationships produced. This de-zoning of the space functions with user groups that discriminate against each other, but through a continuous negotiation of space, and fluidity of experiences, continue to live within the same building.

Living within a city that used to allow this mix to occur, I find that the utilization of this phenomenon is a missed opportunity. At no point am I suggesting that this mix will enforce any type of relationship, but rather I do the opposite in highlighting my interest in how proximity will not impose connection. None the less I recognize that it injects the chance of an encounter.

Original image taken as part of a research project in AUB 2003 with BASTA

Vertical Towers of Green: Skyscrapers of Food in Beirut

In July, a show in Lebanon aired on TV, “Kalam el-Nas” on LBC that informed and documented the state of our food production quality in its varying processes. It seems we water our fruits and vegetables with sewage directly among other major hygienic problems.  An increase in the death of citizens due to food poisoning and an active Facebook page 'Food poisoning victims of Lebanon' keeps this topic alive. Without discussing the restaurant hygiene standards,  controlling where and what we purchase of fresh food products,  with the current population cost and  temperature rise has become nearly impossible.

               Part  of Kalam al Nas report

To add to the problem of our unhygienic food production a previous entry entitled “Food Security: Can global food production be increased?”  indicated that Lebanon needs to increase food production by  three times the total area of the country and therefore increase the currently existing agriculture land by about 5 times to be self sufficient.


Moreover the Food Security indicators of Lebanon’s agriculture instead of increasing show a steady and clear decrease. Considering food is a basic human right for nutrition food security policies and plans need to take a forefront in our demands. Moreover healthy and clean food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods need to be affordable and accessible to all. 

The need to tackle food security and sovereignty in all its aspects is clear, yet, what to do, how to act, what to propose to increase access to good quality food, seem less clear in the case of Lebanon. Vertical farming in this case, similar to the world, might be a viable option to help grow the food needed to support the growing population and provide the existing one with healthy clean food. 

The case of Beirut:

If Beirut used all its public sites as sites where a network of vertical farms  can proliferates several aspects will be covered. These my include 

1-     No weather related crop failures 
2-     Introduces urban agriculture in amounts that are relevant to the need of production.
3-     Control quality of food production
4-     Public land tenure is secure and may be secured by a government decree
5-     Reduces the need for transportation of produce 
6-     Control price of the raw food products as they are planted on government owned land