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Save Beirut Heritage: Call for a protest

Architecture

Save Beirut Heritage is calling for a sit in on Sunday May 1st at 12 noon at the previous location of Cinema Vendome, Mar Mikhael Street.

HAR properties managed to obtain a demolition permit for 3 significant heritage buildings in Mar Mikhayel near the previous cinema Vendome Cinema in order to make space for a 19 story tower called AYA tower (Plot Beirut 663).
The only compromise was to keep the facades; this is unacceptable.
Furthermore, these permits were obtained through political coercion and gross abuse of power by the owners of the plots.
The buildings demolished had been previously classified as architecturally significant by a committee designated by the Ministry of Culture. This same committee resigned once Minister Salim Wardeh succumbed to political pressure and overturned their decision to preserve the buildings. He granted demolition permits, after a long battle to preserve them, the front buildings facades will remain, but this is not enough.
We can’t accept that this compromise become a trend, our old city must be out of the real estate equation.
We are calling you, our friends in the media to help us spread the word. This goes way beyond political feuds and concerns us all as Lebanese.
This can truly be the beginning of the end of our traditional architecture.
Our demands are :
1: STOP POLITICIANS FROM USING THEIR POWER AND DO WHAT IT TAKES TO DEMOLISH OLD BEIRUT.
2: PRESERVATION LAW AND URBAN REGULATIONS.
3: SAYING NO TO ALL BUILDINGS IN THE OLD DISTRICTS OF BEIRUT.
4: DEMANDING THE MUNICIPALITY FOR BEING MORE AWARE OF OUR FEW REMAINING HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE BUILDINGS AND VENUES.
We need your urgent support, for any inquiries please call us any time on the following numbers:
+961 (0)3 572962, +961 (0)3 716219, +961 71 319167, +961 71 011310
Save Beirut Heritage
In the 90’s, an initial census counted 1600 traditional homes and buildings in the greater Beirut. Today, we estimate the number to be close to 300 remaining standing structures. With the Ministry of Culture, we helped review 250 demolition permits and stopped the demolition of 150 buildings that were set for demolition in the past year alone. So in the past year, we would have lost almost a quarter of the remaining architectural heritage of Beirut.
The only thing that can save Beirut today is a genuine popular awakening; something that failed to happen in the 1990’s. We hope that Save Beirut Heritage can become a center around which those who are grieving the death of beautiful Beirut can gravitate and find comfort.
While our lobbying action has been quite efficient, the pace of demolition has become ferocious. We are afraid that soon, speculation and greed will take over the last standing institutions that are trying to defend our shared history. There are virtually no laws that specifically protect old buildings. There is only an ill-adapted law that targets antiquities. This law dates from the French mandate and hasn’t been updated in over 80 years.
There is also a ministerial decree that states that every demolition permit must be co-signed by the ministry of culture, therefore giving power to the ministry to stop the demolition of traditional homes.
But there is nothing that can guarantee the long-term survival of the few remaining traditional homes in Beirut except the tenacity and will of its inhabitants.
Furthermore, the demolition of old buildings is currently illegal.
If you see anything urgent, you can also reach us 24/7 on our own hotline on 71319167.
We also encourage everyone to photograph and film any vandalism act they see in addition to reporting it. Also, send your photos of endangered homes to savebeirutheritage@gmail.com or write on the wall of our Facebook group.
Things can and will be done!

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