UNESCO and partners launch 3D urban documentation of the historic areas of Beirut affected by the explosions
The explosions of 4 August 2020 at the port of Beirut had a devastating impact on the historic areas of the city, including Gemmayzeh, Mar Mikhail, and Karantina, which are home to a number of historic monuments and sites, as well as important cultural industries contributing to the creative economy of Lebanon.
As a first step towards the recovery and reconstruction of these unique historic areas, UNESCO has launched a large-scale technical documentation in collaboration with the Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanon (DGA) and Iconem, an organization specialized in the digitalization of endangered cultural heritage sites in 3D. Universities, research centers, professional associations and civil society organizations have been called upon to cooperate on this important emergency and heritage management project.
“Now that the emergency phase is over and the buildings have been secured, we must move on to the reconstruction and recovery phase. This technical documentation is a first crucial step in this direction” said Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture.
The technical documentation, which is funded under the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, will provide crucial architectural data and detailed documentation to the DGA in order to guide the rehabilitation of urban cultural spaces and selected historic landmark buildings, including the Sursock Palace. In particular, a multiscale 3D model of the three historic areas will be developed, alongside a higher-resolution survey of key historic monuments.
“The DGA has mobilized a national team to follow the documentation process, which will contribute to further strengthening the capacities of local technicians and stakeholders in documentation and data management in future emergencies” explained Dr Sarkis Khoury, Director-General of the DGA.
“We are on the ground with UNESCO and the DGA to undertake an urban and topographic survey of the affected areas by drone in order to acquire detailed topographic and architectural data of the areas of Gemmayzeh, Mar Mikhail, and Karantina” explained Yves Ubelmann, CEO of Iconem.
The support of the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund for Lebanon was provided in the context of the broader LiBeirut initiative, launched on 27 August 2020 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay. An international fundraising appeal, Li Beirut aims to support the rehabilitation of schools, heritage buildings, museums, galleries, and the revival of the cultural life and creative economy of Beirut. Also within the framework of the LiBeirut initiative, UNESCO, through its Heritage Emergency Fund, supported the DGA in the immediate emergency response phase through the urgent stabilization of two historic buildings to prevent their imminent collapse, and is currently supporting another activity to enhance the resilience of Lebanese artists and cultural producers for the revitalization of cultural life.