FROM MEGA TO NANO
NATION-BUILDING MICRO-NARRATIVES FROM LEBANON AND KUWAIT THE JOURNEY OF SAMI ABDUL BAKI
modern architecture, nation-building, dominant narratives, micro-narratives, corporate architecture
The golden age between the 1950s and 60s in Lebanon witnessed the return of talented Lebanese architects who pursued their architectural studies abroad and numerous successful collaborations between local and foreign architects. This period was characterized by maturity in modern architecture that was described as an ‘assimilation’ of the modern ideals. Similarly, Kuwait represented an attractive experimental ground for testing new ideas, designs and construction techniques, that were closely associated with Western architects’ contributions. The history of modern architectural development both in Lebanon and in Kuwait has been dictated with these grand narratives disregarding the lived experiences and professional works of those who are not part of the dominant culture or main plot. This paper examines the case of the prominent but not well-known figure Sami Abdul Baki. The aim is to reconstruct one portion of the narrative of cultural exchange between the two countries that was not properly covered by the dominant narratives.
Architecture | Essays & Viewpoint
Nation-building micro-narratives from Lebanon and Kuwait. The journey of Sami Abdul Baki
Roula El-Khoury Fayad, Silvia Mazzetto
Roula El-Khoury Fayad is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Lebanese American University. She received her Master’s in Urban Planning from the GSD at Harvard University and a bachelor’s in architecture with a Minor in Political Sciences from the American University of Beirut. Her research interests include ‘Material Manifestation of Global Influences in the Middle East’, ‘Representation of Capital in the City’, ‘Representation and Design’, and the ‘Representation of Alternative Public Spaces in the City’. She has participated in several local and international conferences and was also recognized by numerous awards such as the Peter Cook Honorable mention, the Azar, and the Areen Award. She also won the first prize in several competitions: ‘Thinking Housing’, ‘Revisiting Dalieh’, and the design of a Municipal headquarters for Fidar. Alongside her full-time position, Roula is a practising Architect who works on small to medium projects from conception to execution. E-mail: email@example.com
Silvia Mazzetto is an Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture and Design, at Lebanese American University in Beirut. Her research interests focus on heritage restoration, adaptive reuses, environmental and sustainable design approaches, multidisciplinary collaboration projects between the Architecture and Urban Planning, integrating the socio-cultural and behavioural aspects of design and research into education and professional practice. She participated in several international research groups, including ‘Management of innovation for enterprise networks’, and ‘Architectures and Rural landscapes in cross-border regions’ founded by the European Union. Her experience includes many years of practice, in project management and consultant roles, in international companies both in Europe and in the Gulf Region. Mob. +39 347/94.30.734 | E-mail: silvia_mazzetto@genovese-gianpaoloyahoo-it
Al-Harithy, H. (ed.) (2010), Lessons in Post-War Reconstruction – Case Studies from Lebanon in the Aftermath of the 2006 War. Routledge, London.
Al-Ragam, A. (2015), “Critical nostalgia: Kuwait urban modernity and Alison and Peter Smithson’s Kuwait Urban Study and Mat-Building”, in The Journal of Architecture, vol. 20, issue 1, pp. 1-20.
Alaily-Mattar, N. (2008), “Segregation for aggregation? Detachment and concentration in networked nodes of affluence in the city of Beirut”, in Urban Design International, vol. 13, issue 4, pp. 263-271.
Alnajdi, A. A. (2014), Shaikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, 1985-1965, Doctoral thesis, University of Texter. [Online] Available at: core.ac.uk/download/pdf/43093612.pdf [Accessed 19 May 2020].
Arbid, G. (2014), Architecture from the Arab World: 1914-2014 (a selection), Ministry of Culture, Manama-Kingdom of Bahrain, Bahrain.
Bou Khaled, M. (2018), Contested history, conflicting narratives, and a multitude of initiatives – An analysis of the Mapping of Initiatives addressing Past Conflicts in Lebanon, Civil Society Knowledge Centre, Beirut. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.28943/CSKC.002.60001 [Accessed 19 May 2020].
Davie, M. (2001), Beyrouth 1825-1975 – Un siècle et demi d’urbanisme, Ordre des ingénieurs et architects de Beyrouth, Beirut.
Davie, M. (1991), “Demarcation Lines in Contemporary Beirut”, in Schofield, C. H. and Schofield, R. N. (eds), The Middle East and North Africa – World Boundaries Volume 2, Routledge, London.
Fabbri, R., Saragoca, S. and Camacho, R. (2018), Essays, Arguments & Interviews on Modern Architecture Kuwait, Niggli, Salenstein.
Fabbri, R., Saragoca, S. and Camacho, R. (2016), Modern Architecture Kuwait 1949-1989, Niggli, Zurich.
Gaonkar, D. P. (ed.) (2001), Alternative Modernities, Duke University Press, Durham.
Ghorayeb, M. (1994), “L’urbanisme de la ville de Beyrouth sous Mandat français”, in Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, vol. 73-74, pp. 327-339. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.3406/remmm.1994.1685 [Accessed 5 June 2020].
Hanssen, J. (2005), Fin de siècle Beirut – The Making of an Ottoman Provincial Capital, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Kassir, S. (2010), Beirut, University of California Press, Berkeley (US).
Larkin, G. (2009), “Reconstructing and Deconstructing Beirut: Space, Memory and Lebanese Youth”, in Divided Cities/Contested States, Working Paper n. 8, University of Exeter. [Online] Available at: www.conflictincities.org/PDFs/WorkingPaper8_21.5.09.pdf [Accessed 5 June 2020].
Lefebvre, H. (1996), Writings on Cities, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.
Lynch, K. (1960), The Image of the City, MIT Press, Cambridge.
Lyotard, J.-F. (1984), The Postmodern Condition – A Report on Knowledge, Manchester University Press, Manchester.
Maskineh, C. and Pedrazzoli, R. (2018), “Fossil Beirut. A Case of Vernacular Modern Architecture (1943-1975)”, in Journal of Comparative Cultural Studies in Architecture, vol. 11, pp. 14-24.
Nasr, J. (1999), “Reconstruction”, in Huybrechts, E. and Douayhi, C. (eds), Reconstruction et réconciliation au Liban: Négociations, lieux publics, renouement du lien social, Presses de l’Ifpo, Beirut, pp. 13-21.
Nasr, J. and Verdeil, E. (2008), “The reconstructions of Beirut”, in Jayyusi, S. K., Holod, R., Petruccioli A. and Raymond, A. (eds), The City in the Islamic World, Handbook of Oriental Studies, Brill, Leiden, pp. 1121-1148.
Osborne, P. (2000), Philosophy in Cultural Theory, Routledge, London.
Rowe, P. and Sarkis, H. (eds) (1998), Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City, Prestel Pub, Munich.
Saliba, R. (1998), Beirut 1920-1940 – Domestic Architecture Between Tradition and Modernity, The Order of Engineers and Architects, Beirut.
Salibi, K. (1990), A House of Many Mansions – The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, University of California Press, Berkeley (US).
Sawalha, A. (2010), Reconstructing Beirut – Memory and Space in a Postwar Arab City, University of Texas Press, Austin.
Verdeil, É. (2010), Beyrouth et ses urbanistes – Une ville en plans (1946-1975), Presses de l’Ifpo, Beirut.
Wachsmuth, D. (2014), “City as ideology: reconciling the explosion of the city form with the tenacity of the city concept”, in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, vol. 32, issue 1, pp. 75-90. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1068/d21911 [Accessed 05 June 2020].