usually passionate and enthusiastic, Aline Asmar Amman today enraged. The architect lebanese, born in Beirut, grew up under the bombs. But the explosion of deadly and devastating Tuesday has nothing to do with the war. Not only of the inhabitants have lost their lives or their house, this roof, which was what remained after years of deprivation, but the memory of Lebanon that represented his old quarters, all this fragile heritage that was trying to be reborn, is to earth.
Aline Asmar Amman, to which Paris has entrusted the renovation of the Crillon hotel and at the restaurant, the Jules Verne at the Eiffel tower, knows the value of memory and heritage. Between two return trips between Paris and Beirut, where she opened duplicate its agency Culture in Architecture, she made the statement rather than sorrow for the consequences of the negligence of the lebanese State.
The Point : What is your state of mind since the explosion ?
Aline Asmar Amman : I haven't felt this rage in the belly since the war years. It is very unsettling and frustrating for everyone. We came back to this state of revolt primary, it is aghast that it can now occur in such accidents in Lebanon, that no one has been alerted or has taken sufficient awareness upstream, and that it is still possible. Beyond blood in the streets and the families that mourn their dead, one is in the utter absurdity. I am shocked to see that this city that has survived wars, invasions, looting, to be decimated like that. This is unreal. Nobody expected it. It is not in a situation of civil war. The children were on the balconies, people were filming the fire in an innocent way. No one imagined that they were going to be decimated, from dust, and that it was the last vision of horror that they were going to watch. It is necessary to imagine the guilt that I feel : being married to a Swiss, I find myself in a peaceful landscape... But ten days later, I had to be in Lebanon for various reasons. Due to the lack of flights – a two – insured, I had to postpone my trip to Beirut, because I was not safe to go back in time to a major project in Venice. Also, like all Lebanese living far from their country, I bite my fingers not to be with my own people, in the streets, to clear, to help and to think about what we can do... "
What do you expect ?
It is still too early to claim, but it should be really that things are changing, that we are helped by the political class international for a change of government. This management of the country proved to be ineffective and really unhealthy. Lebanon is one of the biggest rate of deflation that exists, it is subject to the famine, and the children cannot return to school due to a management deplorable education system, and so many people are queuing in front of embassies to emigrate ! The goal of the Lebanese is to leave without having to flee a war, but a corrupt system, is really distressing, so that the lebanese people is recognized for its art of living, joie de vivre, his generosity,... This accident is the result of a neglect of the total share of leaders who were perfectly aware of what was stored on the port and who have done nothing to protect the population. Result, it is the people who pays for it.
Read also The Lebanon reinvents the art of living
It started with a phone call from my brother to me to ensure that my parents, who live on the heights of Beirut, in the district of Hamzieh, were going well. But even at 15 kilometers from the port, the windows broke out. His children had heard the same noises as the ones that we have heard, there are twenty-five years. Their heart was pounding, thirty minutes after the explosion, in a state of irrational total, the children shouted : "Is it dead ? Are we going to die ? "It is a cry of wounded animal that doesn't understand how it can be hit as violently, as wild. Between the Lebanese, we always have this reflex to call before the lines are saturated, or because there is a lack of electricity. We called friends who lived in the neighborhoods most affected, including my friend Liza, whose restaurant has suffered a lot. I also called my friend Lady Yvonne Cochrane, the palais Sursock is now in ruins. She was hospitalized, because she was always sitting on the same armchair near the bay window exploded...
Tell us about this palace...
The palais Sursock, the summit of the architecture beyrouthine of the Nineteenth century, was ravaged by the double explosion. © Marie-Christine MorosiLe palais Sursock overlooks the port, without vis-à-vis. He has suffered the full force of the blast. It was one of the jewels of Lebanon and even the Middle East, that Lady Yvonne Cochrane, very dear friend, had managed to keep in creating an association for the preservation of historic houses of Beirut. She had not allowed any construction in front of the old houses to protect them from real estate speculation. Nearby, the Sursock museum, museum collections, and which had just been renovated, it has also suffered severe damage. There's nothing left of this testimony of our history.
Devastated, the Sursock museum, which is located not far from the palace of the same name which had just been renovated, it has lost collections in the explosion. © Marie-Christine MorosiJe think of this sentence of the poet Nadia Touani, who wrote : "Beirut is the last city of the Levant, which can still dress light "... In the reading, it was thought, all at the palais Sursock, architecture patrician of the Nineteenth century, a witness of this cultural crossroads of peoples. It was his work that have been able to preserve these houses which have resisted the war, during the worst moments of the lebanese history. It is our dignity that is at earth. It is as if the Marais [in Paris] was in the form of crumbs, ashes, wiped off the map. Now, that's going to help Beirut while the people no longer has the energy to fight ? Michel Aoun has not yet taken the floor. Macron will do it before him... It is terrible, it puts the spotlight on governance.
Read also Cotta – Beirut, Macron said out loud what everyone thinks everything down
What do you think of the visit of Emmanuel Macron to Beirut ?
This is a strong signal, extremely brave, which gives a lot of hope. I know this is radical, but it comes to wish a guardianship, a mandate such as the one that had France to protect Lebanon. The coming of the French president also puts the finger on another wound : the fact that Michel Aoun, the lebanese president has not yet expressed before the people. It has not yet taken the floor. Macron will do it before him... it is terrible, it puts the spotlight on governance. Since the presidency of general Aoun, there were again tensions in the streets, the poverty that is rooted, no program for education, a collapse of the banking and financial system. And this huge accident proves that nothing is expected so that the Lebanese can live in security. You don't ask for sidewalks clean and the street furniture, but to live in security. The blood stains the streets and many have no news of their loved ones. Despite their modesty in expressing their feelings, the Lebanese people are enraged. One is skinned alive. When we have no hope, we know that we have a roof and that we can get back to the house.
today, the Lebanese have no house. They no longer have the luxury of saying, " I come home ". Families had already lost everything, but he left them with their house, the place of the memory of the family, of their roots. Sometimes just the walls, but also a lamp, a frame, a chair. The older generations that have experienced civil wars, revolutions, did not expect to live through it at their age. And among those of my generation, in their forties, there was a nice momentum to go back to Lebanon and I had myself projects. Rest assistance. We are in the process to draw on our last resources and strength to hope to rebuild while there was already nothing to go forward. I will be the first action to go on-site, renovations to the heritage of lebanon, give him back his dignity. This is the image that we want to give.