Karl (re)Marks - The Karl Sharro Blog

Karl (re)Marks - The Karl Sharro Blog

Architecture, Politics, and general discontent

And now for a completely different take on the world!

Comment on Cedar Island by Carlos Haddad

ArchitecturePosted by Karl Sharro Wed, March 11, 2009 10:43:57

I've received this comment from Carlos Haddad on my Cedars Island blog, I'm publishing it here instead of in the comments section:

Some reclamation projects have proven their feasibility as a matter of fact. It is unfortunate that when we think of reclamation, we think Dubai, which is completely false. Monaco, USA, Bahrain, the Netherlands and Hong Kong just to name of few. Land reclamation as it stands is not sacrilege, but how it is carried out.

Some reclamation projects are feasible. This of course depends on what attributes are given to feasibility, but financially speaking, palm jumeirah was an unsurpassed success.

The problem with this cedar island is not the shape, and not just the environmental impact.

Before I continue, and just to calm some raised eyebrows, yes the environmental impact is going to be horrific. Two reasons:

1. Shape of the cedar island, as it is shown, is going to have a negative impact on the wave action and in consequence the water quality on the immediate shoreline.

2. The marine life is going to be affected and the water quality between those cedar leaves will be next to poor.

Feasibility: the master plan shows middle rise buildings and villas with a lot of green spaces. As soon as Noor runs some figures:

- cost of reclamation

- The geological nature of the sea bed ( I assume it is mostly rock).

- cost of extracting soil, or alternatively the cost of transporting soil from far away distances

- depth of the sea bed (I am not sure how deep it is but it is definitely deeper than the gulf)

Then and only then among other things, Noor will start changing the master plan because the revenues will not be enough.

Slowly medium rise building will become high rise buildings and green spaces will shrink in size so that more built up areas cover the development. Still, the price of land will be very expensive and unaffordable by many Lebanese. Since the cost of land will be expensive, third party developers will build expensive apartments and villas.

Only the ultra rich will afford this. And since the current Lebanese law allows only Arabs (I am sure if all Arabs or certain nationalities):

- the law can either change to accommodate the ultra-rich westerners (which Noor will find more feasible in broadening the spectrum and profile of buyers)

- Or only Lebanese and Arab nationals will live there.

Either way, this will be the city of the rich, the castle surrounded by water and access by the exact replica of Palm Jumeirah bridges.

The cedar island will create jobs? So will other development project in Lebanon if the same amount of money is invested inland rather that off shore.

Developers are only interested in offshore developments away from the politically turbulent landscape of Lebanon? All what was needed was feasibility studies and a sound portfolio to convince developers otherwise. At least, we should have tried.

Maybe that is the intention. An island for the playful bourgeoisie, in the country but away from it. Privileges but not responsibilities. Back to the 19th century escapism where ideal cities are created away from the seemingly unsolved reality.

And that IS the problem.

I am not sure about the “radical” ideas that Hezbollah dropped. Tayyar is another story, since their slogans were easy to make for the Christian paranoia (2005 electorial program), but practice fell under the fatality of the establishment.

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