17 August - 28 August, 2017

The Handrails of Beirut

The Handrails of Beirut by Mazen Haidar




The handrails of Beirut is a promenade of discovery through a variety of printed media of the city’s artistic wrought-ironwork. These images offer a poignant reminder of a neglected, but important, architectural feature of the city’s ever disappearing heritage.


This study, initially projected as a book, was inspired by the desperate need to focus public awareness on the city’s important architectural patrimony which ever teeters on the verge of extinction. The lack of effective conservation legislation has had catastrophic results. Cultural heritage is seen as an optional accessory to be preserved or eradicated on the whim of private citizens. Increasingly, the old houses of Beirut are not the only iconic element disappearing from the urban landscape: colonial and modernist buildings have also become the target of postwar speculators.The handrails of Beirut, however, does not primarily rehearse these issues. It focuses instead upon one feature which bears vivid testimony to the rich variety of the city’s architectural heritage. The iron railings that envelop thousands of balconies in Beirut mark the starting point for our journey and offer a new typological key with which to read the urban fabric.


We launch our journey of discovery of these ignored, but characteristic, architectural features sector by sector and district by district, in order to capture the spirit of place through a new and unexpected detail, and to offer connoisseurs a new medium with which to better appreciate the hidden beauty of Beirut.

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