Public realm and spaces of refuge: DPU Summer lab, Bar Elias

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The RELIEF centre sponsored three students to support their participation in the DPU Summer Lab workshop with CatalyticAction.

Syrian refugees (and a number of Palestinian ones) are living in makeshift tents as well as in permanent structures. Recent investments on collective facilities (hospitals, schools, public spaces) have benefited both refugees and host population, and in so doing created opportunities for local infrastructural development on one side and, on the other side, for community cohesion.

The DPU summerLab will look at the current public facilities in the central neighbourhood of Bar Elias, with a specific focus on public spaces, their material realities and the use that multiple groups make of them. We seek to reflect on the complexity of the relationships between different group. In so doing we pursue a wider reflection on the host-refugee relationship – very relevant in the current national and international debate.

We will start our investigation from a series of public spaces in Beirut, where participants will meet the workshop facilitators. The group will then move toward Bar Elias, where we expect three days of on-site investigation, interviews and meetings with local organisations and municipality, participants will design interventions that will foster community cohesion in Bar Elias.