Works have started on improving the biggest park in the Western Beqaa’ town of Ghazzeh, which hosts an estimated 15.000-20.000 Syrian refugees, besides 13.000 Lebanese inhabitants. The park was co-designed with both the Syrian refugee and Lebanese communities of Ghazzeh.
It is the first time that both Lebanese and Syrian women, children and men had their own say in what their local dream park looks like. The definitive designs for the park gives more space for recreational pedestrians, adds entrances to the new informal tented settlements at the park’s edges, and adds green spaces. Most importantly, it removes concrete walls within the park that blocked viewpoints and that decreased the feeling of safety for park goers.
The new park is the co-creation of the municipality of Ghazzeh, the community of Ghazzeh, VNG International’s LOGOReP, the Dutch Chief Government Architect, and The German municipality of Heimenkirch.
The park is the only major public recreational space in Ghazzeh. However, it is underused as Lebanese complain that they have lost ‘their connection’ to the park, as the Syrian refugees started arriving. Maintenance was lacking. The park, which was once a place for social cohesion, became a place of division. Without an attractive place to meet, social tensions between the original Lebanese inhabitants and the Syrian refugees, lack an informal space to be addressed and resolved. The improved park aims to return that space of leisure and dialogue to the people of Ghazzeh. By organizing community design and feedback sessions for the park’s plan, the park once again is the community’s park again.
The works will continue until shortly after the new year and aims to be ready by the time the flowers blossom in Spring.
Ghazzeh is the town where late last year, after the explosion of a gas cylinder, a fire storm engulfed multiple tents, killing eight Syrian children who could not get out in time.
For more information on VNG International’s LOGOReP, please visit www.logorep.nl