WIT Press

The Absent Vision Within Multiplicity


Free (open access)





Page Range

377 - 386




816 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


D. Daou


The old city is an extension of the new, both contained within one spatial and temporal realm creating a multiplicity of cultural urban history and identity. This multiplicity is based on the ‘hidden city’, which exists in people’s anecdotes and experiences with their surroundings, presented through the verbal, written and architectural history passed from one generation to the next, leading to the sustainability and continuity of the city. Therefore, this paper will examine the multiple cities contained within Sahat-Al-Borj in Beirut, Lebanon, that houses traces of various temporal and spatial events, which depict its hybrid identity and multiplicity. Traces such as the ancient archaeological findings discovered in 1990, the old architectural landmarks from the Golden prosperous Beirut era of 1950’s and 60’s, the war torn buildings of the 30 year Lebanese War and the ephemeral tents of the latest events of February and March 2005 (after the assassination of the Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic-Al-Hariri). Each of these traces are unique events that passed through the Square to form different but similar hidden cities within the Square that contains a lifetime of stories and anecdotes, which still remain present in people’s imagination, a vision of their city that is absent in reality but present through the physical presence of landmarks. Therefore, this paper will offer a reading into the various lost and hidden cities of Sahat-Al-Borj that coexist in one spatial and temporal realm through Italo Calvino’s invisible cities book, concentrating on the City of Eutropia, as described by Marco Polo. \“When he enters the territory of which Eutropia is the capital, the traveler sees not one city but many, of equal size and not unlike one another, scattered over a vast, rolling plateau. Eutropia is not one but all these cities together; only one is inhabited at a time, the others are empty; and this process is carried out in rotation.” Similar to Eutropia, and to every city, Sahat-Al-Borj Square contains multiple individual cities each representing different epochs, unique in their experience and history, but collectively they are the city and form its urban identity. Keywords: multiplicity, hidden city, Sahat-Al-Borj, architectural issues, trace.


multiplicity, hidden city, Sahat-Al-Borj, architectural issues, trace.