Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beirut Metro Map

I created a fictional Metro map for an underground network lines in Beirut to add another virtual layer to the psychological and physical labyrinth of the city, focusing on the ever-present demarcation lines that were splitting Beirut during the long period of the civil war, and its relation to the social environment in post-war Beirut.

The circulation flow is illogical and irrelevant to the geographical urban structure of the city, in a way that all the metro lines will stop at the old demarcation lines, and passengers will have to change to another line in order for them to cross to the other side. Still up until now people taking ‘service’ cab have to take another cab on the old ‘crossings’ to continue to the other side, the driver on the west side of Beirut will not go to the east side and vice versa, even the buses have their major stops on the old crossing points of the old green zone.

Beirut is passing through a situation of ending a phase and waiting on the steps of another, while still passing through a reconstruction period, living a utopian dream of prosperity that is yet to come. The post-war Beirut is marked by a feeling of emptiness, uncertainties and insecurities, and has undergo some abrupt changes, it is becoming a new urban space where the spatial intersect with the social and where flexibility and mobility become key qualities; new spatial orders with a transnational range are being superimposed on the familiar territorial lines. When the city itself becomes a transit place, in a transitional phase waiting in the void, on the edge of another era, it becomes a ‘non-place’.

The new architecture of non-places consist of spatial flows, movement and transitional zones, where the physical body fails to cope with the new urban vernacular, as Bilal Khbeiz wrote in his book ‘globalization and the manufacture of transient events’: “…absenting the physical body, effacing the face to dissimilate in a virtual existence behind a reconstructed image. (…) With globalization the body fails to cope with the imagination, and is quickly expelled and replaced by another body made of the imagined and the fantasized”, as such the non-place imposes itself on the inhabitant of the city leading to a collective behavior of abrupt mobility.

This map is conceived by Hassan Choubassi / www.choubassi.net

Produced by: The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan, in conjunction with Home Works III: A Forum on Cultural Practices / www.ashkalalwan.org

A project within DasArts study program, Block 20, Amsterdam / www.dasarts.nl

Bchara ElKhoury/ Sodeco

To go from Beirut theater to Sassine square take Metro line W2 in the direction of Saida, stop at Bchara ElKhoury. A police officer was shot by a sniper; he survived after being left for hours before anybody could take care of him. Walk the way to Sodeco line E5 in the direction of Tripoli and go out at Sassine. The internal security investigation reported that the sniper was taking position on a building in Bachoura and he probably belongs to the “Palestinian Liberation Army”.

Khandaq Gamiq/Monnot

To go from Clemenceau to Monnot, take Metro line W3 from the central Bank in the direction of the Airport, stop at Khandaq Gamiq. Mustapha Hamoud drove his pickup truck heading to Ashrafieh in the intention to smuggle back benzene to the other side of the city. Walk the way to Monnot line E1. He was stopped on a “Lebanese forces” checkpoint, and was arrested, he never came back.


To go from Sioufi to Café Rawda in Manara, take Metro line E2 in the direction of Electricity, step out at Tabaris. Nadim Chablak and his family were forced to turn back while trying to reach their home on the other side of the city. Walk the way to Ring line W3 in the direction of Rawda the end of the line. They had to send their christian friend Emile Sfeir to get their stuff from their occupied house and bring it over to their new house that they had occupied on their new side of the city, where they presumably belong.


To go from UL Fine Arts II to Bareometer in Hamra region; take Metro line E1 in the direction of Charles Helou-Port until you reach the Hippodrome. Jamila Haboush crossed to west Beirut, through the Museum crossing point, to collect the body of her husband the taxi driver who was killed while driving some people to the airport on the other side of the city. You have to walk the way to Barbir line W2 in the direction of the Light House and go out at Barometer after 10 stops. She walked the length of the hippodrome in the shades of the pine trees It was a beautiful hot sunny day.

Chiyah/Ain Rommaneh

To go from Gallery Semaan to the Arab University, take Metro line E1 in the direction of Charles Helou-Port, step out at Ain Rommaneh. Hisham Shamess Eddine encountered, with a bunch of his friends, Joseph Tayar and his group. Walk the way to Chiyah line W2 in the direction of the Light House. Both groups were playing war in the no-man’s land near their houses taking the real barricades as their playground. Step out at Barbir and take line W1 in the direction of Nahda Staduim, next stop is the Arab University. They started a stone throwing fight that lasted for few hours, nobody was injured.

Ras En Nabeh/USJ

To go from Furn Ech Chebek to Basta take line E3 in the direction of Karantina- Masslakh. Tanios Farah was trying to take a shortcut escaping the traffic at the Lycee Français. Step out at the Museum stop and take line E1 in the direction of Charles Helou-Port. He found himself intruding a street in Ras En Nabeh, the martyr’s pictures on the walls were so much different. Step out at USJ and walk the way to Ras En Nabeh line W2 in the direction of the Light House, next stop is Basta. Unrecognized, he drove back to USJ.


To go from St. George to the Port take Metro line W2 in the direction of Saida. The An-nahar photographer George Khoury walked all the way from Zokak ElBlatt to Saifi. Stop at the Grand Serail and walk long the way to Gemmayezh. Passing by the devastated Martyrs square, taking pictures of the destructed buildings and deserted streets. Take line E1 in the direction of Charles Helou-Port the end of the line. He survived a land mine that had almost taken his life; he lost both his legs in that accident.


To go from Modca in Hamra to Sassine in Ashrafieh take Metro line W3 in the direction of the Airport. The Lebanese resistance fighter Adnan Kheshen was standing on the Domtex corner trying to ambush an upcoming Israeli tank with his RBJ missile launcher. Stop at the Ring and walk the way to Tabaris line E2 in the direction to Beit Meri. The tank passed in Makdessi Street near the British Bank and shut him from behind. Step out after 2 stops at Sassine. For 3 seconds he realized that he was going to die, for 3 seconds he experienced life while passing away.