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American University of Beirut (2020)

Reclaiming Riparian Landscapes : The Case of Al-Ghadir River in Southern Beirut

Bazzi, Mariam

Titre : Reclaiming Riparian Landscapes : The Case of Al-Ghadir River in Southern Beirut

Auteur : Bazzi, Mariam

Université de soutenance  : American University of Beirut

Grade : Master in Urban Design 2020

Al-Ghadir River is one of the smallest rivers in Lebanon. It extends from its headwaters in the mountains of Aley to the Mediterranean Sea. In the 1950s, the landscape was predominantly agricultural, the river a destination for local promenading. However, the rapid urbanization, which took place in Beirut’s southern periphery, has caused radical transformations to the watershed. Anthropogenic influences have modified the natural riparian environment resulting in a degraded landscape of unregulated village expansion, industries, and informal settlements. Chaotic urban expansion and industrial waste discharge into the river have alarming repercussions on people and the environment. With these changes to the watershed, Al-Ghadir no longer supports agriculture, nor does it serve as an amenity destination. Today, Al-Ghadir river is a degraded landscape and environmental health hazard to the inhabitants of the settlements. This thesis investigates these issues from a multidisciplinary lens taking into account that the river is a complex integrated system the embraces hydrology, ecology, and culture. The aim is to reclaim Al-Ghadir river and restore its value as a healthy environment and amenity landscape. An ecological landscape methodology was applied at three different scales : the watershed scale, the river-corridor level ; and the settlement level. The outcome is a vision for a sustainable watershed, ecological landscape planning strategy for the river corridor, and an urban landscape design intervention at the settlement level. The design intervention strives to transform Al-Ghadir’s degraded canal into a public space that caters to the people of the settlement and restores the ecological value of the river. This thesis addressed a very timely environmental issue that is threatening the quality of living in the proximity of coastal rivers in Lebanon. By providing environmentally sustainable and socially responsive strategies, this research could then act as a prototype for rehabilitating abused riparian landscapes.


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