This project stems from an interest in Solidere’s reconstruction project for Beirut’s Central District (the BCD), a 25-year masterplan undertaken by a private joint-stock real estate company to rebuild the centre of Lebanon’s war-torn capital, Beirut.
It aims to rethink the construction of the capital city and its associated representations and provisions of public and authoritative institutions within the condition of the city of Beirut (and the sovereign State of Lebanon) in which the State, since the Civil War, has essentially retreated from its role and responsibility towards the reification of national structures and programmes capable of reunifying the divided nation on the basis of a new civic identity.
At the basis of the research is an understanding of the specific relationship that ties the economic raison d’etre of the city with the identity of its citizens, and to a larger extent with successive patrimonial and mandate authorities that explain the weakness of a central State historically. The realization that financial capital has assumed the role of authority, through the neo-liberal private development that the city has become today, leads to question then what kinds of partnerships or associations are still possible that can work towards the construction and reinsertion of civic and public institutions and models, articulated and led from within the economic model of development of Solidere and the power of private corporations.
Hence this is a proposal for redefining a new economic and civic idea for the city, one that goes beyond Solidere’s model which constructs only an economic project for the city through the marketing of the centre as a real estate investment project. By locating and building on the contemporary shift in the growth of city-centres less as concentrations of industry and trade and more as centres of human capital and knowledge, I propose to reconstruct a new socio-economic framework, capable of reclaiming both a unified national civic role and an economically competitive regional role for the centre, built on the association of knowledge, capital, power and national identity in a new privately developed Capital City.