This research emerges from the author's observations and from concerns shared by many
local and international architects, urban designers and planners about policies and strategies
adopted to reconstruct the city centre of Beirut following the Lebanese civil war (1975-
1990). Post -war reconstruction needs to be seen as a process that carefully restores and
preserves the urban fabric as well as culture and heritage, and it should not be perceived as
continuation of war by different means.
A major postulate of this thesis is that post -war reconstruction is not just a physical
phenomenon and needs to follow a holistic perspective that fulfils people's needs,
perceptions and values. In other words, it is the unification of four attributes: the
physical, socio- cultural, perceptual and functional attributes. Public space imbued with
these attributes, in which they have interrelated relationships perceived through the
transactional perspective to be a holistic phenomenon. Space can be used to guide the
ongoing process of post -war reconstruction, as well as the natural evolution and
transformation of the environment. The research assumes that shared identity, cultural
continuity and collective memory can be achieved through the transaction of people in the
space. To fulfil the thesis objectives, theories and principles on public space are reviewed
and examined. A contextual review of the war and post -war period of the city centre of
Beirut uncovers major concerns regarding its reconstruction policies and strategies.
Public opinion and preferences are elicited using an open -ended questionnaire. Cognitive
mapping is also used to examine the collective memory of people about the city centre and
its spaces. A comparative spatial analysis is also employed to identify changes in
accessibility and integration levels between the pre and post -war spaces.
The consequence of the research outcome confirms that public space, through the
transaction of people, provides the principles, qualities and meanings that respond to the
authentic cultural forces and shared values of people, and the civic character of the city,
which existed before the war and can still be seen shaping life today.
The thesis, however, follows a logical progression of four interrelated parts. These are:
PART ONE includes two chapters. Chapter One reviews a wide spectrum of literature on
urban design principles. Chapter Two introduces attributes of public space.
PART TWO comprises two chapters. Chapter Three focuses on reviewing the historical
evolution of the old settlement of Beirut and its spaces, while Chapter Four outlines the
implications caused by the civil war and its post -war reconstruction.
PART THREE introduces the empirical work of the research in three chapters. Chapter Five
reviews and analyses the questionnaire survey responses and results of 37 respondents.
Chapter Six analyses the cognitive maps of the respondents using Lynch's five elements of
The Image of the City. Chapter Seven presents the spatial analysis of the city centre of
Beirut using space syntax (visibility graph analysis technique).
PART FOUR is the concluding chapter. Chapter Eight examines the research findings and
restates the thesis approach by proposing a framework for implementation and outlining its