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HISTORY: Interrelated and
cumulative factors unraveling the
dynamics of the current situation
Evolution of the market and
How the market is sustained over
Spatial manifestation of the
BRIEF HISTORY OF SABRA
Prior to 1920, the Sabra district was mainly agricultural terraces of fig trees.
With the events of 1948 and 1967 in Palestine, Palestinians migrated to
Beirut and set up refugee camps in the suburbs, including Sabra and Chatila.
In 1958 the vegetable market started to grow in the area.
During the Civil War, 1975, all transportation to the Karantina, another big
meat market in the city, was blocked making the Sabra market a focal market
to the Western part of Beirut.
After the end of civil war, more Lebanese families came in and the Sabra
district witnessed an increase in multi-national migration as well, including
Syrians, Sudanese, Iraqis, as well as Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, and Ethiopian
To understand the uniqueness of such a structure, we will define it
under the following aspects:
1. Space organization
2. Circulation patterns
3. Working modes
4. Security measures
5. Service delivery/ infrastructural
6. Garbage collection: Wastes
7. Rental procedures
A street vendor's space is demarcated by his
carriage sheltered with a beach umbrella that is
anchored to the ground with hollow blocks or
the like. This sheltering device gets extended in
some locations of the Souq thus overhanging
from one balcony to the one facing it.
In addition to the meat and vegetable markets,
retail shops occupy the rest of the ground floors'
space of the buildings in Souq Sabra The streets and sidewalks are appropriated by
street vendors who take the same position every
the width of the streets of Souq Sabra are 16, 12, and 10 meters, all defined as vehicular roads.
due to the overcrowding of the street vendors and the Souq's customers, vehicular movement
This status has turned the Souq into a congested-pedestrian street. Very few vehicles enter the site,
most of which are trucks loading or up-loading market related material.
For this kind of 'emergency entrance', street vendors open the way for the passing vehicle thus
relocating the cart for few seconds, then immediately re-adjusting to the exact previous position.
the Souq opens 7 days a week all year long; weekends are usually the busiest working
days. As for the working hours, this is to be related to the two main functions that
construct the Souq's dynamics i.e. the meat and vegetable markets.
The vendors of the Souq have devised their own security system whereby a guard is
paid per night to watch over the market. For the whole Souq, three guards are in
charge of this matter.
SERVICE DELIVERY/ INFRASTRUCTURAL
Water & electricity: most of the stores in Souq Sabra and the residential neighborhood
next to it depend on delivery trucks to fill up their tanks with water. The sight of electric
cables extending between the buildings forming a “wire blanket” over the roads is a
manifestation of the networking system which the inhabitants have formed to access
Sewage system: The Sahaa is geographically the lowest spot in Sabra. Three roads
congregate at that point and due to the lack of proper drainage, the center of the market
is transformed into a swamp even in times of dry weather. The sidewalks along the Souq
are unusually over elevated in an attempt from the shop owners to create a water-
GARBAGE COLLECTION: WASTES
Wastes coming out of the 'on-street butcheries' are not disposed of under standard norms.
Most part of the meat wastes are being dumped in open- tanks garbage collectors
situated about 50 meters away from the butcheries. The rest of wastes are being left on the
sidewalk and street in front of the butcheries; hence, sewers are being clogged preventing
water to be properly discarded.
Sidewalks and the streets in Souq Sabra are being subjected to rental procedures :
handled by a few 'landlords' who monopolize this process on the street.
Each 'landlord' is responsible for allocating the spots and safeguarding his 'rentiers'.
Sidewalks are rented out to shop
owners who extend their exhibit
towards the street.
The previously mentioned aspects
add up to give Souq Sabra its
specificity: a hybrid and
unconventional market in the core
of the city; charged with chaos and
The meat and vegetable markets, the retail shops, and the
street vendors form a vibrant commercial artery that functions
within an 'organized chaos'.
Organizational Spatial Functional
Upgrading from within
PLAN OF ACTION
Phase 1: preparing for a short-term strategic design
• Implementing a prototype
• Building trust
• In-depth knowledge of the site and context
• Setting the agenda for phase 2
Phase 2: setting possible scenarios for intervention:
• Market organization
• Waste management
PLAN OF ACTION- PHASE 1
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Interviews (one by one)
Synthesis of data