Concrete blocks protect the `Grand Serail´, the seat of the Lebanese government. Photo credit unknown

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DEFENSIVE ARCHITECTURE

Some of the many objects which owe their existence to the socio-political situation of Lebanon, are very hard, physical, almost brutal and unyielding. The effect of many others, however, rests on their symbolic meaning and requires some kind of de-coding; which explains why many of them are hard to detect by outsiders.

What is less easy to show but not less important is the fact that such material settings are not just passive reflections mirroring the political condition. They also exerts a powerful impact upon people’s everyday lives; this is what we mean by the term mediation. If you don’t live within walking distance of “the others” how can you get to know them, challenge your inherited stereotypes or even make friends across societal divisions? Even if you do live close to a community of a different group but your neighbourhoods are divided by a wide road, why would you venture across it?