Tearing down Amin Maalouf’s house

    5
    Here are some photos of the current demolition happening at the former home of Amin Maalouf, one of Lebanon’s best-known authors. Apparently conservationists have just lost the battle to preserve the building.    

    These photos were taken this morning by Maalouf’s cousin Roya Kanaan, who tells me the developer Kettaneh Group, has unilaterally begun the exterior demolition despite a series of meetings in which the multinational firm showed a willingness to engage in preservation efforts. Of course these photos seem to tell a different story:

    I’ve written extensively about the history of the Maalouf home, which has been rented by the family since 1950. Read my interview with Maalouf’s son, Ziad, and see photos of the interiors he sent me.

    If preserved, the iconic century-old home could have played an interesting role in a possible rejuvenation of the historic Badaro area. See pictures of the neighborhood and the role it undoubtedly played in Maalouf’s writing here.

    But instead of preservation, we’ll be getting yet another overpriced high-rise, appreciated by the few elites who can afford it.

    Read here about the now-failed efforts to reach the Kettaneh Group, according to Kanaan.

    As always, I’ve hoped that the Kettaneh company respond to these pieces–and the accusation that they have sidelined preservation efforts– but I have yet to hear anything from their side.

    UPDATE 5:30PM:

    I’ve just been down to the site and the demolition seems to be moving quickly. The entire elevated terrace has been destroyed and now wrecking crews have begun destroying the home itself:

    If that were not bad enough, it seems one of the house closet doors is being used to fill a gap in the perimeter wall:

    Are Amin Maalouf’s own furnishings being used to conceal his home’s destruction?

    While at the site, I also met a few of the guys from Save Beirut Heritage as they were doing interviews with the media outlets that had been dispatched to the scene.

    I asked why they were not able to stop the destruction and they said Culture Minister Gaby Layoun had already signed off on the demolition.  (This is the same Minister Layoun who approved of the destruction of a 2nd century BCE site believed to be a potential Phoenician dry dock earlier this year.)

    Culture Minister Gaby Layoun

    In the case of the Maalouf home: “the Minister said ‘he was sorry,'” Naji Esther from Beirut Heritage told me, recalling an earlier phone conversation with Layoun. “He said ‘he didn’t notice’ that the site was made of sandstone.”

    Esther explained that sandstone composition is one of many factors that can qualify a site for preservation. Apparently hosting the life of one of Lebanon’s most prominent authors, does not qualify for anything.

    5 COMMENTS

    1. Merde pour cette culture au Liban et ce Ministre qui parait connait énormement ce que veut dire culture et preservation des sites a grandes valeurs historiques, humaines et emotionnelles!!!
      Je reve qu’une grande main de sort vous enleve de votre poste Mr le Ministre et vous remplace tous par des personnes de valeurs qui connaissent toutes les valeurs..

    2. Merde pour cette culture au Liban et ce Ministre qui parait connait énormement ce que veut dire culture et preservation des sites a grandes valeurs historiques, humaines et emotionnelles!!!
      Je reve qu’une grande main de sort vous enleve de votre poste Mr le Ministre et vous remplace tous par des personnes de valeurs qui connaissent toutes les valeurs..

    3. Layoun and Qaloush are responsible. The demolition would have not happen without Qaloush signature! And Layoun is Lebanon and maybe regional champion in heritage demolition!

    Leave a Reply