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:
• 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.
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.