from the Lebanese government is one of a series undertaken by Ecochard,
beginning with the 1943 Beirut Development Plan through to his study for a Ministry
City in 1963. This work was theoretically under the direction and under the
control of the Commission of Beirut and its Suburbs.
plan foresaw large roads linked with a hierarchy of speeds. Thus, six
interchanges, service roads and roads providing outlets from the city centre
are proposed to service a road junction located outside the borders of Beirut
municipality. The regional and national level is expressed in the proposal for
a peripheral outer highway, beyond the urban area, and a highway linking the
north and south of the country and an array of proposed regional roads. “The
network of large roads had the objective of creating a ‘coherent whole’”. It
would include, on the one hand, roads penetrating the city from outside, while,
on the other, roads connecting different neighbourhoods and the new city with
the current city centre.
urgent need of development are suggested, including slums, in order to prevent
their endless extension. Two new towns are proposed in order to cope with the
growth of the city, the first in the south in the same place as that proposed
in the 1943 plan, and the other more to the west. The founding principle of
this proposal remains the same, namely to build a “healthy city” near the “sick
city”; also, the road constitutes the backbone of urban development.
reflects the vision of a city of varied density. The quantity of construction
allowed in various areas actually differs so much that the density allowed on
the mountain slopes adjoining the city limits makes it almost rural. The reason
given for this urban planning is he safeguarding of the site and its impressive
landscape. Two new “centres of attraction” allow less concentration in the
heavily populated traditional centre. Located to the extreme southeast and
southwest of the city, these two centres help in promoting the suburbs and of
course justify, in relation to the new town, the low population densities
beyond those limits.
functionalism leads naturally to a grouping of activities by category,
including those involving administration of the state. The idea of a Ministry
City had already been envisaged along a southern boulevard of Sidon. The idea
was to decentralise commercial activities to new shopping centres corresponding
to “the life of a modern city”. Rapid east-west circulation, avoiding the city
centre, completed the plan. Zones requiring urgent development were defined
through the knowledge the planner had of the city and with the aid of aerial
photography. A distinction was made between categories: housing for the
economically insecure, slums, shanty towns and hovels.
The new towns were no more
built than the Ministry City; the highway project was just beginning to take
shape in 1963, and no policy of land appropriation had been set in place. However
this plan left its mark on our perception of urban space and urban planning.