e-scape: landscape international workshop

NEW DATE – 22-30 MAY 2015


e-scape. Transitional settlement

e-scape flyerThe AUB Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management department, in collaboration withthe Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) at AUB, the Kayany Foundation and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), is organising an International Landscape Workshop in Lebanon.

Project description

Title: e-scape. Transitional settlement
Organized by: Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management (LDEM) at AUB in collaboration with the International Federation of Landscape Architecture (IFLA), the AUB Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS), and KAYANY Foundation

Location: Bar Elias, Lebanon
Date: May 2015


Landscape is an essential component of people’s surroundings, an expression of the diversity of their shared cultural and natural heritage, and a foundation of their identity.

New challenges, as climate change, depletion of natural resources, conflict between globalization and local development, and re-localization of war refugees have emerged managing, protecting and safeguarding the landscape in terms of heritage that interacts with community and individual life.

“Emergency” it is a word that most represent Lebanon and its landscape. “Lebanon is now facing a difficult and challenging period”, said the United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the implementation of resolution 1559, the 6 may 2014.

The new risk landscape, accentuated by exponential rates of Syrian immigration, represents one of the emergencies this part of the world is facing now. Approximately 2.000.000 displaced persons are transforming the landscape by introducing new patterns, new process, new rhythms that require responses to the new conditions (Fig. 1). The Lebanese government has resisted establishing formal refugee camps, fearing a repetition of the country’s experience with Palestinian refugee camps.

But the deterioration of the situation calls for the development of a strategic plan at the national and regional level that is able to face the issue of transitional settlements and shelters needs for the displaced population. According to the UNHCR data (Report, March 2014), with the escalating number of refugees in Lebanon, tension between hosted and guest community, poor quality of life in the informal settlements, the ecological and cultural impact on the territory and the lack in coordination of the local and international interventions are some of the pressing problems the country is forced to deal with.

But how a country that suffers a lot of inadequacy in governance could be ready to tackle a so complex and multi-scale problem?

The Lebanese urban planning system does not adequately address sustainability, livability, environmental, spatial and equity issues. Urban plans in Lebanon focus exclusively on the physical planning of the region under study and do not approach urban planning from a strategic perspective (UNDP, 2010).

Over time the lack of planning and landscape projects has set up a territory in which disintegration, juxtaposition and marginality are among the elements capable of expressing its inherent qualities.

In this landscape the new and increasing Syrian informal settlements (ITS) are stressing the vulnerability and implication of such presence in the existed emergency situation. Erected in different areas of Lebanon, the ITS are enclaves of migrant seeking to establish communities and ground connections.

In their movements and reallocations, the new communities are organizing spaces, trying to meet their housing needs, in an accelerated process of settlement that considers individuals as numbers and are living simply as an occupation of the soil. These movements are creating spaces that are the result of misuse, waste of natural resources, abnormal production of “rejection” and complaints about the lack of “planning the landscape.”

In order to provide all humans with an environment that is viable and worth living, new planning models and approaches have to be developed, both strategically and systemically, that consider landscape as a tool to re-establish the lost connections, to identify new characters and begin planning processes of integrated design with effects on the landscape at different spatial and temporal scales.

The environmental impact and relative crisis resulting from the distribution of the Syrian informal settlement in Lebanon is still underestimated. The landscape workshop e-scape, transitional settlement will investigate the landscape design potentiality in set out new approaches and new methodology to convey the complexity of ‘displaced by disaster’ (Esnard and Sapat, 2014) conditions.

In the Lebanese territorial realities, where the presence of ITS has exacerbating the pre existent difficult situations at the economical, social and environmental level, the landscape project takes on a strategic role.

The student’s workshop in May 2015 arrives after a preliminary phase of study and site analysis conducted in January 2015 at AUB. During 5 days of intensive work, on site visits and meetings with Ngo’s involved on Syrian crisis, a group of 10 international and Lebanese design professors lead by Maria Gabriella Trovato, Professor at the LDEM/AUB, defined a method of intervention to be applied on site. The methodology is based on the framework of landscape process able to interrelate (it means: to recognize, protect, maintain and develop) with the ongoing transformation and the instable and mutable situations of the territories affected by the migratory effect.

The e-scape landscape workshop is conceived as an intensive operative workshop. In 8 days students, researchers, professors and local communities will work together implementing on site sustainable problem-solving projects at the larger and smaller scale. Environmental and Cultural are the two main topics we want to stress on trying to propose punctual but effective design intervention able to address the major issue the country is facing.

The workshop will cover the:
1. Environmental Component of the chosen area
- Before
- During
- After

2. Environmental issues:
- surface water management
- surface preparation
- on-site water retention/detention option
- surface water quality on-site: ex treatment ponds/innovative solutions
- sewage – dry sewage/composting toilet/other low tech options (systems adapted to scale/population numbers)
- energy (low tech alternatives/solar/wind)
- recycling
- composting
- food production (security, sustainability, individual, communal)
- mitigating/enhancing after-impacts
- soil structure, fertility, erosion, compaction

3. Cultural Component
- A framework for settlement planning
- culturally sensitive layout
- transitions from public to semi-private to private places
-  functional spaces (domestic work spaces/communal workspaces)
- recreational places


  1. Scientific direction and coordination:
    Maria Gabriella Trovato, Landscape Assistant Professor, LDEM-FAFS, AUB
    Rabih Shibli, Acting Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service, AUB
    Hala Fleihan, project Coordinator at the Center of Civic Engagement and Community service, AUB
  2. Landscape Architects Professors
    Djurdja Stojicic, University of Belgrade
    Robert Kruijt, Wageningen University
    Kathryn Moore, IFLA
    Mohamad Abo-Teira, AUC
    Paola Raffa, Universita’ “Mediterranea” di Reggio Calabria, Italy
    Valerio Morabito, Universita’ “Mediterranea” di Reggio Calabria, Italy
    Gabriele Paolinelli, Universita’ di Firenze, Italy
    Larry Harder, University of Guelph, Canada
    Helen Yu, Penn University, USA
    Salma Samaha, Lebanese University
    Orazio Truglio, ALBA University
  3. Landscape Architecture Schools
    LDEM- AUB, Lebanon
    ALBA, Lebanon
    Lebanese University, Lebanon
    American University of Cairo, Egypt
    University of Belgrade
    Wageningen University
    Universita’ “Mediterranea” di Reggio Calabria, Italy
    University of Guelph, Canada
    Penn University, USA
  4. Partners and Institutions
    Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management, AUB; Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service, AUB; Lebanese University; Department of architecture and Design, AUB; ALBA University, Penn University, Wageningen University, Universita’ “Mediterranea” di Reggio Calabria, International Federation of Landscape Architects, University of Belgrade, Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, KAYANY foundation, UN Lebanon, UNHCR Lebanon.

This workshop further stands in line with AUB’s ever growing civic engagement and contribution to its social environment. It will build on the University’s role as a catalyst for acting and taking initiatives on the human and social level and provide Faculty members another opportunity to interact and exchange ideas.

Your organization will be part of the sponsors, partners and institutions participating and contributing in this workshop.


This event is proudly supported by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).
Deadline for registrations: 25 April 2015

E-scape Booklet
E-scape Application Form