Co-curated by Public Works Studio and Beirut Design Week, the Forum on Cities and Designers is a platform where designers engaged with urban issues are invited to critically reflect on their practice. Through an exhibition, panels, and workshops, the Forum will focus on questions of representation (tools, methods, politics) and production (positionality, labor, ethics) in design and research.
The Forum departs from a recognition that any urban design activity dialectically engages/produces three social spaces: 
First, the disciplinary space of the studio or office, equipped with its particular tools of representation and production. We are referring here to drawings, designs, and decisions made by “experts” (i.e. architects, engineers, designers, government planning officials and others)
Second, the space of the design and planning intervention (its site, immediate, and wider context). This is a space that is continuously evolving through environmental changes, social relations, and access to resources.
Third, the space of the positioned self, namely the designer’s positionality within economic, political, professional and social realms. Positionality plays a central role in the designer’s relation to his/her site and stakeholders and consequently in how design is approached, thought of and practiced.
The aim of the Forum is to understand design as a practice that is produced by the interaction between these three spaces and the actors that inhabit them respectively. As such, the material presented is a product of the various voices, networks, processes and economies that surround it.


Beit Beirut
Opening on Friday, June 22 

The exhibition features works that revisit the ways designers collect, represent and communicate data. Focused on physical and digital mapping tools and methodologies, the exhibition aims to stimulate critical takes on and conversations about the processes, politics, and implications of the representations we produce as designers.

  • Ahmad Gharbieh, Monica Basbous, Mona Fawaz and Dounia Salamé | Refugees as City-Makers: A Scooter’s-Eye View of Beirut
  • DATA4CHAN.GE | Visualizing human rights
  • Jimmy Elias | The Multiple City
  • Mahmoud Al Joumma, Mustapha Dakhloul, Firas Ismail, Marwan Kaabour & Claudia Martinez Mansell | Greening Bourj Al Shamali
  • Mustapha Jundi | Between Land and Sea
  • Public Works Studio | Masterplanning in Lebanon: Manufacturing landscapes of inequality
  • Public Works Studio, Order of Engineers and Architects, UN-Habitat | A competition for housing scenarios and alternative building practices
  • SMEX & Adriana Basbous | Resisting Surveillance
  • theOtherDada | Beirut RiverLESS
  • Urban Experiment: Elisabetta Pietrostefani, Lea Riggi and Pablo Navarrete | Urban Change and Citizen Perception




Monday, June 25 

7 PM 

Beit Beirut

Practitioners are invited to critically reflect on methodologies, tools, and processes chosen in relation to physical sites and their complexities. This panel is a prompt for designers and researchers to reflect on methods, politics, tools, abstraction, complexity in representation.


  • Claudia Martinez Mansell, Balloon Mapping Bourj Al Shamali
  • Ahmad Gharbieh (American University of Beirut), Refugees as City-Makers
  • Sergej Schellen (Bus Map Project), Connecting the Map to the Street: Design & Civic Action
  • Mustapha Jundi, Between Land and Sea

Discussant: Majd Al Shihabi

Language: English



Tuesday, June 26

6:30 PM

Beit Beirut

Practitioners are invited to critically reflect on their positionality (social, economic, professional) in a particular design project or practice. As many questions and concerns arise in our respective practices in relation to ethics, hierarchies, stakeholders’ participation and positionality, this panel will provide the space to articulate these issues, identify spaces of possibility, and collectively re-think design processes.


  • Nour Madi, Recovering Topographies
  • Samer Chinder (UN-Habitat), The Space and The Public
  • Saba Innab, Momentary Foundations: Reconstructing Nahr el Bared Camp 
  • Abir Saksouk (Public Works Studio), The Space of Community 

Discussant: Samar Kanafani

Language: Arabic




4 Days Workshop
Starts Monday, June 25
Ends Thursday, June 28
10 AM - 3 PM
Beit Beirut and surrounding neighborhoods
Free of Charge

During Beirut Design Week, Marc Andrews and Christian Degen, two German designers, will explore the neighborhoods surrounding the Beit Beirut Museum along with local creatives. From a design perspective and methodology, the workshop will examine and investigate how one can contribute to the quality of life in a rapidly changing urban environment. 

Marc and Christian have conducted similar workshops in more than 25 cities worldwide, from China, Colombia, South Africa, Senegal, to Romania, Moldavia and many more.

Both designers live and work in Amsterdam. Together they are running a creative studio for visual communication, andrews:degen, where they are developing strategies and visual concepts for campaigns, identities, publications and online services. They love to share and apply their knowledge in the context of social design for the greater cause. 

Christian Degen (1978, Kleve, Germany) is co-founding partner of andrews:degen and works since 2008 in Amsterdam. He studied graphic design in Cologne, Utrecht and Barcelona. Besides he teaches communication and multimedia design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and provides lectures and workshops on social design at several international art schools and design festivals.

Marc Andrews (1978, Kleve, Germany)is also a co-founding partner of andrews:degen and is a social psychologist and designer. He lives since more then 20 years in the Netherlands. He bundled his interests and passion about visual communication and psychology in the book 'Hidden Persuasion' published by BIS Publishers. Further he coaches young designers in their final projects at the faculty of Multimedia Design in Amsterdam and organises Social Design Workshops around the globe.


Sunday, June 24 
4 PM - 8 PM 
Beit Beirut and Site Visit 
Free of Charge

Almost all large cities have at some point in time tried to tame their rivers and streams by covering, culverting or lining and straightening them. This has solved some problems but created others. Many cities are now trying to reverse this trend, revitalising both rivers and hydrological systems, mimicking natural processes and greening cities in the process, as well as conserving and saving water. Designers and architects are very much in the forefront of this process. The imagining and images designers and architects create are powerful tools of change in urban planning and a first step to move city bureaucrats, engineers and the public towards a more sustainable water management practice.

This workshop, led by hydrologist Tharan Fergus in collaboration with water management expert Hussam Hawwa (Difaf), architect Maha Issa (Atelier Hamra), and Lil Madina Initiative, will explore different international ‘water in the city’ projects and the water management challenges facing Beirut and Lebanon. How can designers, urban planners and policymakers address these challenges at multiple scales? How can designers help reimagine water as a common resource for the city and its dwellers?

Tharan Fergus Hydrologist based in Oslo Noway, 25 yrs experience in flood and erosion management and river restoration. Currently working for City of Oslo, Agency for Water and Wastewater Services as project developer for 'water in the city' projects: urban river restoration and sustainable stormwater management. 

Hussam Hawwa (Difaf) is an agriculture & Biosystems Engineer with masters in rural development and integrated water resources management. More than 10 years’ experience in water, wastewater, and environmental sectors with focus on management, treatment, restoration, and designing of sustainable solutions. Founder of Difaf, an environmental consultancy and technical design bureau focused on improving water and environmental resources through holistic assessments and technical-social interventions.

Maha Issa (Atelier Hamra) Architect by training and landscape architect by practice, Maha was part of the landscape architecture firm “AgenceTer” in Paris for five years up till 2005. Co-founder, with Gamar Markarian, of Atelier Hamra in 2008:  a multidisciplinary and open design practice allowing for experiments in architecture and landscape architecture. We collaborate with engineers, hydrologists, botanists (and others) to propose the most responsive design to a site. Our projects are developed with a constant concern for sustainability, ecology and water management. In parallel to our practice, we are strong believers in the social role and responsibility of a landscape architect and are often reflecting on issues regarding public space, access to play areas, and green areas within the city.

Lilmadina Initiative is a collective of researchers, professionals, residents and community activists residing in the Greater Saida Region. Lil-Madina engages in various research,design and advocacy activities relating to protecting the natural environment/cultural heritage, resisting problematic planning projects as well as developing alternative visions/policies for the Greater Saida Region. 


Saturday, June 23
9 AM - 12 PM 
Beirut Digital District 1280
Free of Charge

Bus Map Project team will be leading this slow-hack retreat, where participants are invited to share their skills, ideas, and insights around the issue of public transportation in Lebanon. The retreat aims to start a conversation and explore possible longer-term collaborations on issues of information accessibility and networking. It is an invitation to people from all and no disciplines to join the conversation about the unlocked potentials of Beirut’s and Lebanon’s public transport.