Portuguese architect wants to create memorial park for Beirut blast

Reis is proposing that the remaining elements at the blast site are intertwined with a landscape. (AP/ illustration courtesy: Tomas Reis)
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Updated 02 September 2020

Portuguese architect wants to create memorial park for Beirut blast

  • Lisbon-based architect is dreaming of creating a memorial park at the blast site

CAIRO: A Portuguese architect is proposing to create a memorial park at the site of the deadly explosion that rocked Beirut last month.
To remember the blast and its victims, Tomas Reis is dreaming of creating a memorial at the site as part of the reconstruction of the port.
The explosion on Aug. 4 killed at least 190 people, injured thousands and caused widespread damage across the city.
The blast deepened Lebanon’s political and economic crisis, with the government resigning and France leading efforts to stabilize the country.
It is unclear whether Beirut’s officials have even begun to discuss what to do with the site at the center of the explosion.
Reis, 29, decided to go ahead and create initial illustrations of his personal project, which so far has no support from any organization, he told Arab News. 
Although he has never been to Lebanon, Reis was moved to start drawing plans “voluntarily” after seeing the amount of damage “Beirut suffered from the blast when Lebanon has been facing difficulties,” he said.
“Some cities change with specific events - think of the great fire of London, the bombing of Hiroshima or the earthquake of Agadir. These events are turning points.
“Should the blast be forgotten and the port rebuilt as it was? Should a reconstruction include a monument in a square?” he asked, saying this is how he was inspired to create the park designs. 




A proposed illustration of the memorial park. (courtesy: Tomas Reis) 


Reis is proposing that the remaining elements at the blast site are intertwined with a landscape that follows concentric lines - like shock waves, resembling those of the explosion that occurred.  
“The old grain silo in ruins, next to a crater that is more than 40 meters deep, is a very remarkable image, difficult to neglect,” he said.
He said that if his project was adopted, it would create a new image of the city without disregarding its past.

 




A proposed illustration of the memorial park. (courtesy: Tomas Reis) 

 


First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

Updated 20 September 2020

First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

  • Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird is estimated to have a global population of only around 100
  • It is believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration

DUBAI: One of the rarest birds in the world has been spotted in Abu Dhabi by two members of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC), according to state news agency WAM. 
Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird - estimated to have a global population of only around 100 - was seen by Oscar Campbell and Simon Lloyd at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, WAM reported on Saturday.
Believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration, the Steppe Whimbrel is an extremely rare sub-species of the widespread Whimbrel, which regularly passes through the Emirates in spring and autumn.
The Steppe Whimbrel seen in Abu Dhabi is believed to have been born this year, making it the first time a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been spotted anywhere in the world, according to WAM.
“On August 29, we were studying around 20 whimbrels on the Saadiyat Beach golf course. We were stunned when one flew off showing the distinctive white wings, clearly different from the other birds,” Campbell and Lloyd told WAM. 
“We immediately realized the potential significance of this so we concentrated on observing the bird and obtaining photographs, allowing us to check the key identification features,” they said.
Campbell and Lloyd then shared their photographs with world’s top expert on Steppe Whimbrels, Gary Allport, who confirmed their findings. 
“The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi is remarkable in itself, and confirms our suspicion that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian peninsula region,” Allport said. 
“What is even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever, anywhere in the world, that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been seen in the field…It’s an amazing find,” he added. 
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Course management was delighted with the discovery. 
“When you look at the significance of sighting the Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi, its history and the subspecies actually being declared extinct in 1995, it is pretty amazing,” Clinton Southorn, Cluster Director of Agronomy for managers Troon Golf, told WAM.
“This is one of the reasons the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has worked hard to achieve its Audubon certification and showcase the positive environmental impact the course can have on the environment,” he added.