Mt. Rubble: Reconstructing the 2006 Landscape

2006 by Julie Weltzien
The 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war left 265residential, commercial and office buildings severely destroyed or razed to the ground in Haret Hreik, a suburb of Beirut. The municipality reported 3119 housing units and 1610 commercial units (stores and offices) were completely demolished. In total at least 20,000 residents of Haret Hreik lost their homes.

TO read about the reconstruction process, you can look at the previous entry, Waad Delivers a Reconstructed HARET HREIK,

The rubble of those buildings lay there for a few days in heaps. Some residents sifted through them in the hope of finding some of their valuables, before the trucks rolled in and started the clean up.

Dimitri Messinis Associated Press
The rubble was estimated to be about 80,000 meter square of debris. These included both the debris of the buildings and whatever belongings the residents did not save before the clean up.
Trucks loaded with rubble queued ready to clean up Haret Hreik for its reconstruction. The trucks filled up and  transported the rubble to the coastline of the Ouzai, another southern suburb of Beirut, and placed them into three original mounds later transformed into two. 

2006 by Julie Weltzien
Hana Alamuddine, a member of the Reconstruction Unit, was unclear why the location was selected and said it was a decision made by the Ghobeiri municipality. The municipality was not accessible to clarify why they chose this location in particular to dump the rubble.

Waad Delivers a Reconstructed HARET HREIK

I recently drove around Haret Hreik and I would like to report that most if not all of it is rebuilt. In a paper, I once tackled the reconstruction process of Haret Hreik, so part of the following are extracts of it.

This blog entry investigates the reconstruction of Haret Hreik and critically scrutinizes the type of organizations that took part in the process. The blog entry will assess the organizations involved based on their relationships with one another, the social agents who intervened in the reconstruction in addition to the formal and informal rules that they accepted or ignored (building regulations, etc.) the institutions on which they pleaded with (state , religious customary geographic political) and their results according to my analysis of the situation.


The context:

Haret Hreik is a southern suburb of Beirut that is made up of a mixed residential and commercial fabric housing a relatively heterogeneous shia-muslim community and ministers that support Hizballah.

Haret Hreik before its destruction in 2006 emerged in mainly three different phases.

1- Historically it was known as a school district of christian missionaries. It was also a green space within the city which made it desirable for middle and high income residents.

2- During the civil war the composition of the population in this neighborhood transformed drastically. The near-20 year civil war saw the division of Lebanon into two religiously homogeneous units and the majority of Haret Hreik’s christian occupants were displaced and never returned.

3- In the years that followed the end of the war, the shiite community of Lebanon chose to live there and developed the area into a vibrant commercial and residential enclave. The once low-density green suburb of Beirut became an area dense with buildings most of which were 'against' building laws and planning criteria.(Fawaz2007) During the 1990s, Haret Hreik housed social, religious and economic institutions which transformed it into the Hizballah base that it is famous for, the state within the state.(Fawaz&Ghandour2007)

Original link to photo

In addition to claiming the lives of 1183civilians(30%children),4054 injured and displacing 255,794 citizens, the Israeli war on Lebanon in July 2006 destroyed most of the Lebanese infrastructure, several towns in the south of Lebanon and the Southern suburbs of Beirut.(RLn.d, HRCn.d.)

This entry, however, will only discuss the southern suburb of Beirut(Haret Hreik) primarily due to the specific reconstruction process, its repercussion on both the local and national political sphere, its location in an urban area, and its symbolic importance to Hizballah.

It was reported that 265 residential, commercial and office buildings were severely destroyed or razed to the ground in Haret Hreik. “The municipality reported 3119 housing units and 1610 commercial units (stores and offices) were completely demolished. In total at least 20,000 residents of Haret Hreik lost their homes.” (Fawaz&Ghandour2007)

Get me out of this Traffic Jam


If you have tried to drive within or towards Beirut and ended up spending double or triple the amount of time, it should take, this blog entry is for you. The excuses are endless and include “well it’s raining”, “there is an accident”, “a car stopped”. But the reality is that the massive ‘generated traffic’ is enough evidence to question and propose an alternative transport system, which recognizes the problems brought by the mass use of privately-owned cars (Newman and Kenworthy, 1999)


Unfortunately Lebanon’s transport culture has become exclusively American, which favors automobile transportation and disregards the establishment of any public transport system. This results in unsustainable economic, social, and environmental burdens in addition to the cost of health problems, accidents and excessive construction and maintenance on land resources that are rare and limited. Most importantly labor and productivity is diminished due to traffic jams and higher costs of living (Newman and Kenworthy, 1999; Kay, 1997).

Studies have shown, even in the United States, that building more highways resulted in more congestion due to a number of related causes that, according to Newman and Kenworthy (1999) amongst others, include more sprawl.

So if you campaign for bigger roads please read about the unsuccessful experiences of the United States, Turkey, and England amongst others in this regard.

Light Railway is clearly the answer and has achieved international consensus (Hass-Klau, 2000; Kenworthy and Laube 2001). Several Mediterranean cities have proposed or established rail transport systems, including Casablanca, Rabat, and most notably, Cairo (Lowe, 1993). The advantages of rail transit systems surpass any other form of mass ground transport in dependability, speed, comfort and safety. Such a system will reduce land consumption, congestion, as well as air and noise pollution (Lowe, 1993; Newman and Kenworthy, 1999). Electric train systems greatly reduce dependence on oil but with our continuous power outages in Lebanon, I can already see your smirks.

Even though the blog invites its readers to dream of other possibilities, most of which are extreme, this blog entry will not propose a light railway system as the solution to our problems due to limited government funding. Instead, this entry puts forth a simpler proposal in the hope that I will reach my destination one day in Beirut and during this lifetime without driving like a maniac, cursing my way through and paying a ridiculous amount of money for gas and parking fees. 

SOME NUMBERS (references 6 to 10) 

The future is grim if we do not stop to think .

A 1970 study estimated that motorized person trips in Beirut were split as follows:
52 % by private car;
9 % by bus;
39 % by shared ('service') and unshared taxis

It is known that during the war there was no other forms of public transportation other than the shared and private taxis, both of which were automobiles seating four passengers.

In 1994, buses, vans and similar vehicles, both public and private, transported a maximum of  1.3 percent of all person trips in the Beirut metropolitan area.

Some recent studies estimated that in 1999
83 to 90%  commuted using private cars
7 to 10% by bus + shared and unshared taxis

Cars have therefore increased by 538% from 1974 to 1998

It is deceiving to look at Beiruts map with its streets empty ...Therefor the second map depicts the reality of the mass versus void of the city

This implies that looking at Beirut's urban fabric in a map is deceiving because its streets are not empty instead they  are always so full and congested producing tons of decibels of sounds and pollutants and hardly any pedestrian pathways.
The second map highlights this and depicts the reality of the city's street-scape. A large congested city with hardly any breathing space.

The proposal 


Improving the bus services is the quickest and most effective way to increase publ