Leftovers Grow

Sanayeh Beirut, Lebanon abandoned building naturally enveloped by greens!

The urban environment we live in today is complex. It is hard to explain its production by using one system. Instead, cities today, such as Beirut, are the result of layers upon layers of narratives, histories, economies, politics, building law, policies, technologies and production systems. Yet often the relationships of the layers to each other are unclear, hidden or disregarded.

The systems that produce the urban environment are usually most evident in residual spaces and surfaces. These spaces which are created as leftovers due to the multilayer that guide and produce the urban sphere. The definition of them as a mere product that are ambivalent to the city make them absent from our mental maps .

They are bare, empty, untreated and most of the times if recognized are seen as undesirable byproducts. For dense cities such as in Beirut where one meter square costs about 3000$, unused surfaces and spaces provide a great opportunity for public interventions. We must recognize these residuals and embrace them.

Residual surfaces in the city of Beirut are everywhere. One regular surface that can always be seen is the side wall of any built building. These walls are a result of the lack of negotiations between neighbors that the building law produced through its attempt to regulate. The building law in most urban contexts does not force any side setbacks. Developers who want to build the maximum possible do not setback from the plot sides. Therefore the side walls of all buildings on urban plots are left blank. The developer expects the neighbor to develop the site with only market intentions as well. Therefore they expect that this will also result in building up to the side plot limits thereby totally blocking the side.