Beirut Featured on CNN: Beirutopia – A Garden City?

How the rooftops would look like

One of the things I dislike the most about Beirut is the drastic lack of green spaces and parks. In fact, we tend to see parks as a waste of space, vying to destroy them to build new high-rises in their place. Yes, I think the destruction of the Sursok gardens is a Beiruti disaster.

However, a new project being planned for Beirut has caught the attention of CNN and they decided to talk about it. Beirutopia: Could Lebanon’s capital become a garden city? 

Architect Wissam Melki has a plan for Beirut – and it’s to turn the roofs of the city’s dense buildings into gardens, as a way to help ameliorate the poor air quality, limit the inland heat affect and make the quality of life in the city better. The plan doesn’t involve complex drainage systems, simply small to medium-size trees in large pots, all over our roofs.

Beirut's current "green" situation

How Beirut would look like after the project

The overall aim is to have 60,000 trees planted around Beirut, which would create a canopy above the city to help it cool down in the scorching summer and to decrease the levels of CO2. And get this, the cost for the project is very little: about  $3.5 – 4 million. That’s way less than any of the new high-rises being built in Beirut and it would span the whole city.
Melki says, however, that even if the government funds the project, the residents of the city need to feel involved. In a country like Lebanon where “green” is so low on the list of priorities, are we, as Lebanese, willing to care for the trees on our rooftops?
One of the main problems I see facing this is the status of Beirut’s buildings. Most of them are old, with shabby structure. Could they support the extra weight of the trees?
Regardless, I, for one, support such a project. Beirut is in dire need of some green – the city is dying from pollution and it’s high time we do something about it. Watering a tree every few days wouldn’t put a dent in our lifestyle, now would it?
It also requires less involvment from us than fighting for the city’s heritage. Either way, let’s honor our capital and get behind this much-needed project. Even CNN thinks it’s interesting enough.
The gardens look great and would make Beirut an even more gorgeous city than it is today. “Just imagine: The world’s first rooftop garden city,” Melki said. I can imagine it. Can you?
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