• Shifting Grounds [the ground between form and practice in Beirut]
    Carla Aramouny and Sandra Frem
    Actar Publishers, 2024
    Carla Aramouny & Sandra Frem

Sandra Frem and Boulos Douaihy, "Beirut’s ground—built densities and collective realm in Beirut," 2019. Digital axonometric

Shifting Grounds looks at Beirut as an ideal laboratory for social practices that characterize its urban culture and shape its experience at ground level. These spontaneous practices fill the gap between the city’s capital-driven development and the aspirations of its inhabitants, transforming Beirut’s ground into a symbiotic environment of cohabitation. The book examines specifically four spatial practices—appropriation, commoning, production, and activism—and considers how they inform and transform the diverse urban morphologies of the city from built matter to cultural organism. Organized in four topical chapters, the work unfolds specific methods for analyzing each practice; to culminate in an extensive graphical repertoire of taxonomies that characterize the ground at multiple scales and timeframes. Building upon a collaborative research project, Beirut Shifting Grounds, the book includes writings that reflect on the political project of the ground as the backbone for collective life, proposing that design needs to revisit operative and projective tools to reclaim it as a public realm.

Carla Aramouny is an architect and an assistant professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), department of architecture and design, where she is currently the architecture program coordinator. She is also the founder and director of ArD Tech Lab, a digital fabrication unit at AUB. She holds an MArch from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Lebanese American University. Her research and teaching tackle intersections of architecture and the expanded environment, with a focus on hybrid architecture, ecology, and infrastructure, and on digital/analog shifts in making and representation. Her work has been presented and published at several international conferences and exhibitions.

Sandra Frem is the cofounder of platau platform for architecture and urbanism, and an assistant professor of practice in the department of architecture and design at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She holds a master’s of science in architecture studies (SMArchS) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning, and a DES in architecture from the Lebanese University. Her work between practice and academia investigates the negotiations between architecture, territory, and urbanization processes that underlie the contemporary city, and won numerous recognitions and nominations. Her work has been published and presented at many international exhibitions, including the Seoul Biennale for Architecture and Urbanism 2019, and the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.