From Architecture to the Civil War: Stories from Modern Lebanon

Last Friday we had a visitor at camp: Abdallah Tabet is a landscape architect, born and raised in Lebanon. He gave the campers an introduction to modern Lebanese history and architecture through the story of Fahkr al-Din II, an emir, “prince” in Arabic, who is remembered for his attempt to unite Lebanon and throw off Ottoman rule in the early 17th century. In addition to presenting the country’s physical landscape, he shared his personal experiences growing up in Lebanon.

Some of the campers were curious to hear about his experience growing up during the Lebanese Civil War, which ran from 1975 to 1990. He explained that when he was 8 years old he and his family lived on and off in an underground shelter which had once served as a fabric warehouse. At first his time in the shelter was fun because school was canceled but when his teacher arrived with a stack of work for all the kids, the excitement wore off. This story is working its way into the play that Group tha‘ is writing in Drama class and will perform at the End-of-Camp Performance.

Under the influence of Fahkr al-Din II and his time spent in exile in Venice, the Lebanese houses began to reflect those of Italy. Houses with red tile roofs, covered porches, and rooms opening onto a central courtyard became prevalent. The use of different colored stones in the place of paint as a form of decoration in Lebanese architecture was the inspiration for an art project that Groups Alif and Ba’ tackled this week. Mimicking this use of natural materials, the campers used earth tone oil pastels to make transfer drawings of buildings.


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