The Lebanese Civil War lasted 15 years from 1975 to 1990, killing more than 150,000 people and leaving some 17,000 missing. The government has done nothing to clarify the fate of the disappeared and missing people and their families are still waiting and fighting to learn of their loved ones’ fate.
We’ve already had an ACT to support these families, as well as movies and initiatives to support their cause, but nothing comes close to the “urban memorial” that Domaine Public Architects are proposing. I first read about the memorial in the DailyStar and asked the Domaine Public guys to provide me with further info and pictures regarding their project and it’s a pretty amazing one.
The urban memorial constitutes Phase 1 of a larger plan to revitalize the Beirut Waterfront by setting up The Memorial at first, followed by a cultural art park, a lighthouse square, a viewing platform and a sea park in the last phase. I will only discuss The Memorial for now until I have further information on the other phases.
The Memorial is urban space that will act as a platform to help the families of thousands of missing persons keep their cause visible and alive, and to also keep the faith that one day the fate of their beloved ones is revealed. Its aim as well is to help Lebanese in dealing with memories of their not too distant past and contribute to national reconciliation.
The Memorial will be set up on Beirut’s Corniche, a neutral public space that is embraced by Lebanese of various sects, economic background and political affiliations, and will expand into three sub spaces:
– The Contemplation Room, which opens to the sea and the sky, slightly curving downwards to create a direct connection to the sea and the natural sunset.
– The Collectibles Room, where families can place objects belonging to their loved ones.
– The Message Room, a room for projection, movies and messages that will act as an interactive communication space within the memorial.
The memorial is meant to keep the cause of the concerned families alive as it display images of those missing on a curved glass wall. Whenever the fate of that person is revealed, his image is removed from the glass. The emptiness is an act of closure while the remaining images allude to the work left to be accomplished.
I honestly believe it’s a very important project, and the location they’ve chosen is ideal as it’s highly frequently especially by young people who will have a glimpse of the suffering that these families are still going through and realized the ugliness and brutality of war. I hope that it will be implemented one day, and I would love to see The Museum of Civilizations come to life as well one day.
Here are some more pictures of the project:
The memorial lifts 50cm above the sidewalk to create an 85 meters long public bench. It hence becomes a bench of unity, a bench that brings people of different beliefs, confessions and political ideas to sit side by side united and contemplate on their shared history and ultimately the future that binds them. as the bench lifts, it allows the sunlight of the setting sun to filter into the memorial space below as a spiritual gesture. The bench is etched creating circular recesses that collect rainwater. As the Beirut sun emerges from behind the clouds, the bench dries up and a series of circular pockets retain the rain, a succession of miniature water pools is what remains.