tutor | nour zoghby fares
Today, cities are confronting unmatched demographic, economic, social, environmental and spatial challenges with more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas. That figure will rise to 6.5 billion people by 2050 -two-thirds of all humanity- with 95 percent of urban expansion taking place in the developing world (United Nations, 2015). To face this upcoming challenge, countries and cities must prepare for this rapid urbanization and plan for resilient sustainable spatial expansion strategies; otherwise dramatic consequences will become the reality.
Consequently, in various cities around the world, devastating results have already materialized: poverty and unemployment are rising, informal chaotic human settlements and lack of appropriate housing are on the up rise, basic services -sanitation, water, waste disposal, energy and public transportation are lacking to non-existent, crimes are rampant, environmental pollution is spreading, health is deteriorating, and climate change natural or man-instigated disasters come to magnify the already alarming situation. To achieve the New Urban Agenda’s goals, a participatory process, engages partners, stakeholders, urban professionals, governments, the private sector and the communities targeting cities to become sustainable, inclusive, safe and resilient.
Using Beirut as a case study, students became part of this global discussion by investigating different types of spatial vacancies and reimagining them as collective spaces. These strategies respect and commemorate memory of space and propose sustainable urban development. Students were divided into groups of three and studied six types of spatial vacancy; vacant infrastructure, vacant lots, vacant structures, vacant platforms and vacant public spaces.