By Olivia Melkonian
CG: One does not preclude the other. These types of materials are compatible with modern day technology, and have tremendously evolved during the last decade. I find them to be reassuring and noble, they age gracefully, and most importantly they are sustainable. As we look to how we may live in the future, it is important that our solutions as architects and designers respond to our culture, context and heritage. Choosing to work with locally sourced materials instead of relying on imported construction resources for example, will have a sustainable impact on our industry in the long run.
CG: We design buildings predisposed to resist disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and fires, but we don’t do the same for extraordinary events like wars and pandemics. Could you imagine how a war-proof building would look in times of peace? Or living in spaces that support social distancing when there isn’t a pandemic? Design has the ability to affect one’s emotions and well being, and designing for extreme catastrophes will undeniably leave a negative impact on people’s lives. The new designs that will emerge after this excruciatingly difficult phase we’re going through will be even more intimate, and will aim at bringing people closer again.
CG: Constantly pushing the era forward isn’t always progress. We stand between the future and the past; the future lies ahead of us, but behind us there is a great accumulation of history. A precious resource for imagination and creativity. Heritage in Beirut has been under constant threat, not only of gentrification, but also of neglect, abandonment, and corruption. The streets of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael did offer some of the last spaces in which traditional Lebanese houses were celebrated and inhabited. And yet only a few days after the devastating Beirut explosion, there were already reports of real-estate agencies beginning to sweep the site, counting on the inhabitants’ desperation to sell their properties and to leave the area. The new world doesn’t need just another new building, it needs developments that can be truly sustained. It’s through elaborating new forms of social and urban living that we will be able to preserve and encourage our past and architectural heritage.
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