Social entrepreneurs and temporary public space supply: Beirut, Lebanon

Mady, C.

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Mady, C. (2013). Social entrepreneurs and temporary public space supply: Beirut, Lebanon. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Urban Design and Planning, 166(6), 349-357.

marketing and public relations , recreational facilities , urban regeneration

Public spaces constitute one of the first urban elements to be threatened in times of instability. Their efficient supply and management becomes a concern for both public authorities and individual users. This paper examines the role and objectives of social entrepreneurs in supplying temporary public spaces within an unstable setting and focuses on small group collective action. The mechanisms used to identify potential land, negotiate use-rights and promote these spaces are discussed for the case of Beirut, Lebanon, a society segregated by the effects of war and political upheaval. The case of an organic food market is used to illustrate temporary public spaces in the critical period of 2005–2007, when political instability reigned in the country and rendered conventional public spaces undesirable. The paper concludes by drawing lessons for land readjustment in crisis situations from the movement of temporary public spaces within a city while still attracting people that formerly had difficulties meeting elsewhere.

Main finding
Temporary public spaces in Beirut are initiated by social entrepreneurs, such as sports grounds, markets and exhibitions, based on the synergy between economic reality as well as the social aspects of creating a meeting place accessible to a variety of people. It requires specialized, personal and tacit knowledge from the social entrepreneurs to select a suitable site. Relationship building is hence an important aspect in gaining trust for the use-rights negotiation and agreement. The temporality and mobility of such spaces enforce the possibility to activate and materialize underused lots in the city.

Description of method used in the article
17 temporary public space in Beirut were identified and key actors were interviewed

Policy implications

Organising categories

Economic Transactions Gathering/Socializing
Case Study Interviews
Urban Planning
Physical types
Geographic locations