Archileb is an independent resource and forum for critical reflection, debate and information exchange on architecture in and connected to Lebanon. Lebanese in focus but international and inter-disciplinary in scope, it presents architecture not just as a physical phenomenon but also as a socio-cultural artifact. Archileb embraces high quality state of the art design while emphasizing the pervasive societal impact of our built and cultural environments and the moral imperatives this brings to planning, architecture, and design endeavors.
Archileb emerged in response to the continuing deficit of intellectual reflection and critical debate which has characterized Lebanese architecture since the beginning of the 1975-1990 war. This has been particularly apparent in the undervaluing of architectural heritage in the post war reconstruction era, during which the opportunity to foster meaningful architectural debate and practice was lost. It is also a pragmatic response to the limited information sharing and networking channels within the construction and design industries.
Archileb problematises the visual, experiential, and textual qualities of our cultural and built environments whilst providing an interaction platform for intellectual and technical exchanges between thinkers, designers and builders. This is with a view to generating rigorous and constructive alternative trajectories, raising awareness and, by promoting civic engagement, holding architects and designers to account.
In this context, Archileb.com went online in 2005 as an informative, interactive, cultural and service-based platform spanning Lebanese architecture, planning, interior design, landscaping, design, engineering, building products and materials. Dedicated to designers, builders and users, this Lebanese architecture portal is an integrated and comprehensive niche site archiving historical data, providing current updates and contributing to the breadth and quality of architectural and cultural knowledge production.
The socio-cultural artifact of architecture and the act of building – both representatives of human evolution – are being permeated by the contemporary merging of the physical and the virtual, allowing the digital pervasion of concepts and practices which are sometimes vestigial, sometimes revolutionary, and always transformative. In parallel, Lebanese architectural production is uneasily negotiating the ground between revivals of a contested heritage and downloads of contextually insensitive ideas and objects. Facing such fundamental challenges, Archileb acts as a laboratory in which Lebanese thinkers, designers, builders and users are enabled and encouraged to reformulate external influences with discernment, share expertise, and interact to generate a collective critical capacity of the type needed to nurture a distinctive Lebanese sensibility.
Archileb’s main goal is to be one of the best-regarded architectural sites on the internet, focusing on Lebanese architecture through the recording and analysis of its past, the constructive criticism of its contemporary production, and the identification of creative local character and identity. In meeting these aims, Archileb draws on a range of spheres, including the cultural, artistic, technical and moral, to serve as:
• An informative medium providing daily news and updates on events, competitions, writers, designers, projects, builders and products covering the activities of practice, research and teaching. Together these constitute a specialised knowledge resource of use to the target sectors.
• An interactive medium which forges links between relevant individuals, universities, professional bodies, cultural centres, media outlets and other pertinent organisations. Archileb provides an inclusive platform which enables the identification and expansion of collaboration and communication opportunities. As it brings together professional, academic and community-based interests, it supports exchanges of knowledge, opinion, reflections and critical analyses of the type which benefit from inter-disciplinary synergy.
• A cultural medium recording and promoting excellence in Lebanese architectural production, including through interviews with experts and reviews of innovative projects. On one hand, Archileb values and documents high quality cultural production, particularly focusing on the original and contemporary. On the other, it encourages stronger cultural appetite and discernment amongst the Lebanese people by calling attention to local cultural events and exhibitions and highlighting instances of local and international cultural expression. On this basis, it aims to develop the critical capacity of professional and lay communities to engage with - rather than passively accept - the formation of their own built and cultural futures.
• A service oriented medium offering opportunities for initiating, strengthening and expanding the network of relationships between providers and users of architectural and design services and products. Moreover, Archileb offers the very first bespoke directory of its kind dedicated to the architecture and design industry, linking demand to supply in the commercial sector, as well as signposts to other centrally-gathered technical resources of potential utility. It offers free and fee-based advertising opportunities to suppliers and other organisations which would benefit from exposure to our readership.
Elie Michel Harfouche
Architect Dip ALBA MSc UCL l Chief Editor
Elie is the founder of Archileb. He is a practising architect heading Elie Michel Harfouche Architects and an associate professor at the Lebanese American University. He holds a BA in architecture from the Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts at Balamand University and an MSc in Architectural History from the Bartlett at University College London. Elie has practised and taught both in Lebanon and the UK.
Dominique El Hage
Architect Dip UL l Junior Editor
Dominique graduated in Architecture from the Lebanese University In 2011. Showing a high degree of interest in the theory that goes behind the organization of architectural spaces and the shaping of local communities, he is continuing his research in the Lebanese University Doctoral School, studying the emergence of a new form of architecture that combines plug-in cities and vertical villages. Dominique Joined the Archileb team in August 2011
Graphic Designer BA USEK l Creative Director
As a graphic design graduate of Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik, Ghislaine has since accumulated an extensive experience in the field specifically dealing with designers and artists. She has found an ideal environment for her creativity within Archileb and went on to co-found Archifolio with Elie Harfouche, a media agency catering for the needs of the design and construction industry.
Planner BA Oxon MSc UCL l Consultant
Suzanne has a background in Geography (BA Oxford University), Public Understanding of Environment Change / Environment Risk & Society (MSc University College London) and Town Planning (currently PhD candidate, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London). She has undertaken a range of public and private sector consultancy and academic research projects, individually or as part of a team, related to spatial planning and development in London and the UK, with core interests in urban morphology, real estate and commercial property markets, built environment sustainability and land-use planning policy-making. She has worked in various full or part time roles for the Greater London Authority, the Greater London Assembly, Westminster City Council, RPS Planning Ltd, Local Dialogue, as a co-consultant to a number of London sub-regional development partnerships, and has held a one-year full-time research fellowship with University College London's Environment Institute / Cities Group funded by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Joseph Jean El-Hourany
Architect Dip ALBA MS LU PhD MIT l Contributor
Joseph is architect (DES ALBA) and urban planner (MS LU). From 2006 till 2010, he conducted a doctoral researches (PhD) at the MIT in cotutelle with the UQAM. In his doctoral thesis, he treated the problematic of the parametric design in the age of cybernetics. He is also titular of two bachelors in philosophy (BA LU) and musicology (BA McGill). Since 1999, Joseph is working on several architectural and urban planning projects in Lebanon and abroad; besides, he is teaching and lecturing in different research institutes and universities (Canada, USA and Lebanon).
Architecture student LAU l Contributor
Ramzi Naja is an architecture student at the Lebanese American University. He went to high school at the International College in Beirut graduating in 2008 and has worked at an IT support company and later at a consulting firm during summers. Ramzi has written for school publications and has recently begun contributing to the university newspaper, the LAU Tribune.