Iman Keaik

Paradox of Living in Contradicting Terrains and Contested Grounds

Supervisors: Nasser Golzari, Samir Pandya

THIS RESEARCH-BY-DESIGN THESIS endeavours to critically examine marginalised people living on a threshold in politically divided cities and contested places, ‘in-between’ two lands, two territories or two neighbourhoods. It aims to understand the unequal distribution of resources around the blue demarcation line between Israel/Palestine and Lebanon and examine the changing nature of the intangible and invisible borders in the City of Beirut.

The concept of a threshold is in perpetual change, both the visible geopolitical checkpoints and border lines, and more subtle mental barriers that are erected between people. Echoing the author’s personal journey through divided terrains and endeavour to live on the Green Demarcation dividing the East and West in Beirut, the thesis aims to unpack the unequal distribution of resources and its effect on the sectarian division. It questions: Where does the dividing line start and end? Are we living on the edge or in between invisible traces?

The study will take place in territories of conflicting power, understood through different methods of representation including narrative, film, drawing and imaginative scenarios. By drawing from the existing urban and living conditions, the narrative will illustrate the unequal distribution of resources in Beirut including water, electricity and gas, among other issues of land ownership. It will first investigate the complex relationship between architecture and power and its effect on the dividing lines. Second, it will examine cities that lie on a threshold and how tangible and intangible borders are created by the unequal distribution of resources.

MORE is a part of Open Studio project run by the School of Architecture + Cities at the University of Westminster to make its design, research and practice-based work available online while it is happening.

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