Welcome to the website of At the Edge of the City, the collaborative research on Beirut’s public space and the closure of its urban park “Horsh Al-Sanawbar.” The website is dedicated to give exposure to the critical undertaking, the book and its contributors.
“At the Edge of the City does a painstaking job of laying out all the issues surrounding the current state of the Horsh. Its writers are impressively dexterous in their combination of theoretical and poetic registers…Yet, what makes this book so wonderful is its emphasis on the solution, not the problem.”
(Michael Teague, Al Jadid 2012)
“…the collection proposes a new discourse about Beirut’s park and public space in the city. It aims to ‘provide a platform to contest the existing governance of Horsh al-Sanawbar and to bring forward a well-informed public space public policy agenda’.” (Annie Slemrod, The Daily Star 2011)
“The current crop of books on Beirut has been produced by writers who have few first-hand memories of the Civil War…Their arguments about the city are psychogeographic, channeling Guy Debord and the Situationist International…Fadi Shayya’s At the Edge of the City…enlists 40 contributors to engage a single site.”
(Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, The National 2010)
20 years ago in 1992, the Municipality of Beirut and the Regional Council of Île-de-France signed a cooperation agreement that included funding the redesign of Beirut’s Park ‘Horsh Al-Sanawbar’ through a design competition. Since then, the park has been closed to the public except for minor trial periods and on the basis of obtaining special entry permits. In 2009 and based on previous award-winning research, DISCURSIVE FORMATIONS and with the financial assistance of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung – Middle East launched an action-based research effort to document the status of Beirut’s park and public space and to bring back the park to public memory and the public debate sphere. The result was a multidisciplinary research, critique, art and activism book published in March 2010 and titled At the Edge of the City.
The collaborative work is a critique of reading urban space, which builds on historical accounts of the park and employs multidisciplinary analysis in reading the complexities of space. Rather than looking at it as an isolated, recreational, urban program, the work conceptualizes the park as a continuation of the city’s cultural and infrastructural landscapes. The work covers issues of space & place, memory, citizenship, social practices, urban governance, activism, environment, discourse and design.
The project started with an awareness of the imperative nature of communicating research to a wide audience and of informing political change avenues with contemporary empirical findings and conceptual frameworks. In its own way, the book acts as a platform for a multitude of stakeholders in Beirut’s urban space and for the viewpoints of professionals across disciplines contributing to knowledge production about Beirut’s public space.
At the Edge of the City: Reinhabiting Public Space toward the Recovery of Beirut’s Horsh Al-Sanawbar
Edited by Fadi Shayya; Foreword by George Arbid
Copyediting & Proofreading by Sonya Knox; Layout & Design by Danny Khoury
Printed & Bound by 53 Dots (Dar El Kotob), Beirut, Lebanon
DVD replicated & printed by Skyline CD, Beirut, Lebanon