Adaptive Strategies in Naples and Beirut

Methodology, Scenario Thinking and Design Fiction

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Port cities are places at the edge of sea and land, where flows of goods and people create unique spaces, institutions and cultures, often over long periods of time. History matters when it comes to understanding and designing the future of port cities such as the two ancient Mediterranean cities of Beirut and Naples, where institutions and spaces are the result of longue durée histories. Long-standing spatial and institutional frameworks in these cities have influenced recent plans. In the Italian city of Naples, historic spaces and practices have impeded transformation, because port and city authorities are pursuing divergent and historically established goals while many industrial sites, including areas used by oil industry, await redevelopment. In Beirut, reconstruction following the tragic explosion of 2020, which significantly damaged both port and city, shaping and perhaps limiting the present and future of the city. This article analyses the historic development and the opportunities for future planning of Naples and Beirut through the lens of the Adaptive Strategies course, a master-level course coordinated by Carola Hein and co-taught with Paolo De Martino and John Hanna at TU Delft in 2022. Students, through imaginative methods, rethought the relationship between land and water, port and city, questioning current planning models and imagining new resilient and adaptive processes.