Terrain Vague. Interstices at the Edge of the Pale

Carole Lévesque

Welcome to Bachoura, or the Found City as Interstice


Building on the intricacies of Bachoura, a central neighborhood of Beirut, and on the found, improvised, temporary, illegal uses of the city, this essay explores how a second, parallel Beirut can be envisioned, where the uninhabitable remnants of abandoned buildings, overgrown lots, improvised playgrounds, act as imaginative devices and can be seen as places of differentiation, places of informal reinvention. 


The essay also recounts a series of small scale architectural interventions built in the spring of 2010 in the St-George church, in the heart of Bachoura. As part of a design exploration led at the American University of Beirut byt the Welcoming City Design Studio, these interventions demonstrate how the appropriation of the terrain vague can provoke temporary public spaces and uses to emerge, change the perception of what is allowable in the city and bring Bachoura out of its interstice to be seen as an active participant in the future of Beirut. These interventions, informal places, while decidedly grounded in the social condition, emerge as seeds of inflection, as alternatives to the privatized development of the city: alternatives where the will to create unveil marginalized potentials.


Barron, Patrick, Manuela Mariani (eds). (2014). Terrain Vague. Interstices at hte Edge of the Pale. New York: Routeledge, 33-47