After having witnessed the biggest non-nuclear explosion in history, the citizens of Beirut are faced with yet another traumatizing experience – to prevent the Lebanese government from demolishing the life-saving grain silos of their harbour. The grain silos of Beirut are the only remaining industrial modern heritage structures that survived the explosion of August 4th, 2020; shielding the southern part of the city from complete destruction as they absorbed the shocking waves of the explosive ammonium nitrate.
The silos are built of concrete and had a capacity of 125,000 metric tons, equally divided between wheat and corn (and barley). They were able to store up to 35 days of wheat reserves for emergencies situations. Built in the 70’s, they slowly became part of the harbour identity.
Today, their torn apart silhouette and crumbling northern façade are a proof of what happened on that doomsday and the collective memory of the Beirutis. More than 25 architect restorers from Lebanon, local citizens, as well as many national and international NGOs have requested that the silos be protected. UNESCO and ICOMOS have also given official statements about their concerns and demanded the authorities to protect the building.
In April 2022, the Lebanese government took a decision to demolish them. The people have no trust in their government anymore, therefore, the demolition of the silos is another milestone in the provoked and conscious amnesia of a cursed nation, as justice is forgotten and never served.
To know more about the silos, various articles and reports were published, listed below:
- ICOMOS Heritage Alert – Beirut Grain Silos
- Beirut’s grain silos: The monolith that shielded the city during 2020’s port blast
- Demolishing the Beirut Port Silos Will Deepen Lebanon’s Collective Amnesia
- Beirut’s grain silos: An architectural monument, a shield for the city and a memorial for survivors
- Silos of Beirut at risk
A petition was also launched on www.change.org.
In the hope that further global organizations show support to the Lebanese people and their collective memory.
The silos of Beirut’s harbour continue to burn today, as all the collapsed wheat is undergoing a fermentation process, causing the poisoned wheat to ignite under 40 degrees of sun heat. This is leading to a further dilemma among engineers, the people and the government.
Yet, and as a friend once stated:
“there will come a day when the Lebanese authorities will sentence this monument for demolition, with the excuse of the need for a space to build a new grain silo for Lebanon. However, the monolith must remain. It must be preserved, not destroyed or replaced. The community’s collective memory must not be crushed or erased. This monolith that contained the grain reserves of the nation saved lives, while the damage could have been much worse, the monolith took head-on the blast’s shockwave to stand today as a physical witness of the greed, ineptitude, negligence, and mismanagement of the people in power.’ Gioia Sawaya