El-Qaa landscape with Hermel and the Lebanon’s Western Mountain Range in the back.

Landward at the Climate Culture Peace Initiative Conference

Landward Research recently had the occasion to present 2 different projects at the Climate. Culture. Peace Initiative, a virtual conference led by ICCROM’s FAR flagship programme (First Aid and Resilience for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis) and British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund (January 24th – 28th , 2022).

The conference focused on “culture for sustainable and resilient human responses to climate change while safeguarding heritage from conflicts and disasters brought on by climate-related environmental stresses”. 160 presenters from multiple cultures and backgrounds contributed with diverse presentations and case studies. Landward presented 2 interventions in Lebanon – a lecture and a case study.

Logo for Climate Culture Peace

LECTURE – Beirut’s Built Heritage after the Explosion of August 4th 2020

Landward’s Heritage Adviser and archaeologist in Lebanon, Alia Fares, presented with architect Restorer Grace Rihan Hanna a lecture about Beirut’s built heritage, a climate resilient traditional architecture, which had suffered tremendous damage from the devastating Beirut explosion on August 4th, 2020. Alia briefly introduced the historical identity of the capital. Grace continued with an in-depth overview of the damage caused by the explosion and an overview of the restoration and reconstruction efforts to protect and preserve the city’s fragile and precious urban 19th and early 20th c. architecture. A taskforce, the Beirut Built Heritage Rescue 2020 (BBHR2020) took on the mission to identify and assess the damage , as well as set restoration and reconstruction recommendations. The presentation’s summary was published in the Climate Culture Peace Abstract Book on the CCP platform.

CASE STUDY – Qaa Heritage Revival Project

The case study on the other hand showcased the Qaa Heritage Revival Project – QHRP, which targets the vulnerable and neglected tangible and intangible cultural heritage of el-Qaa, a village located in northern Beqaa, in Lebanon, bordering Syria to the North and the East. Its traditional urban fabric made of well-preserved mudbrick dwellings makes it one of the most authentic villages in the region, with numerous unveiled archaeological sites dominating its historic agricultural landscape. Yet, decades of governmental neglect, water resources depletion, climate fluctuations, civil unrest, massacres, Syrian refugee crisis and heavy depopulating migration have all left their unrelenting traces on el-Qaa. Therefore, the Qaa Heritage Revival Project was conceived with a comprehensive cultural heritage approach, incorporating diverse partners, including Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA), specialised architect restorers, archaeologists, tourism expert consultants, HIMAM, a local NGO, and the municipality.

The long-term aim is to identify, assess, and study its tangible and intangible heritage, to integrate it into the overall sustainable ecotourism value chain, involving local communities as partners in the valorisation process, creating sustainable and long-term economic growth by reviving the villages authentic. The project also aims to reverse the depopulation process by restoring the dwellings and turning the region into a tourism destination, developing eco- and agrotourism opportunities around the mudbrick dwellings, training locals in rebuilding using traditional construction techniques. Peace building targets by collaborating with refugees is crucial here, who often come from traditional mudbrick architecture regions and can contribute to the restoration process. And finally, the project addresses the effects of climate change through proper management of natural resource by encouraging inhabitants to invest once again in local agricultural production.

The mudbrick dwellings were presented as a Case Study Qaa Heritage Revival Project (QHRP) on the CCP platform, co-authored by Alia Fares, Salam Kallas and Houda Kassatly and edited by Dr. Kenneth Aitchison.

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