'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut
 

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut

following world war II, beirut became known as ‘the paris of the middle east’  due to its french-colonial architecture and vibrant culture, which drew tourists, intellectuals and investors to the lebanese capital. however, this boom period ended in 1975 with the outbreak of civil war and since then the country has been further marked by various conflicts. after researching the country’s complex history, photographer james kerwin embarked on a trip to lebanon to document the derelict, yet beautiful buildings that have been left behind.

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘triple bypass | derelict mansion’

high ceilings were born from the need to cool rooms during lebanon’s hot summers

all images © james kerwin

 

 

from abandoned mansions to ruined hammans, the photographs captured by kerwin lay bare the marks left by the most recent war in 2006, during which israeli bombardment damaged the city. amid the crumbling stone and rotting timber, the historic elements of the architecture can still be seen, such as the ‘triple arcades’ that are synonymous with lebanon. 

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘president is calling | former mansion’

the ‘triple arcades’ is an architectural feature found in homes and palaces across lebanon

 

 

the abandoned buildings take on their own unique beauty, yet the derelict state reminds viewers of the troubling conflicts that rendered them destroyed. with this photography series, kerwin brings attention to the country, its people, and its recovering capital, and you can see more on kerwin’s website here

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘balcony views’

a ruined apartment block, hit during the war, however the triple arcade can still clearly be seen through the remains

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘the front line’

a mansion undergoing renovation work to the roof, this famous palace in the south of lebanon was on the front line, and it was held as an army base, stronghold and lookout point

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘the smell of roses’

built in the 19th century, this is a very old mansion on the sea-front with a light pink-colored exterior

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘the circle of trust’

the façade of a residential building in beirut – the curtains were installed to allow residents’ privacy from the opposite high rise buildings

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘glazed over’

the entrance to a former theater in beirut 

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘exfoliate | a former turkish hammam’

since the 16th century, turkish bath houses have been popular in lebanon, but due to the civil war many have been shut down

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘the centerpoint’ 

a former synagogue, which is still intact enough to give a sense of what the space once was like

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘the ottoman empire’

a ruined hammam with a pretty ceiling

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘the twirl’

the spiral staircase appears like an after-thought in this large abandoned mansion, that was also used during conflict in lebanon

'a paradise lost' by james kerwin reveals the derelict architecture of beirut designboom

‘paris by design’

a stunning abandoned mansion, that somehow retains the ceiling detail

 

 

project info:

 

project name: lebanon: a paradise lost

photography: james kerwin

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom

  • Great shots, but misleading title. The majority of shots are from structures outside Beirut

    Philippe Saad says:
  • I am Lebanese and I live in Beirut. I have not seen several of these locations. Great photographer.

    Hicham G. says:
  • Great photos. However, the architecture is ottoman not french. French architecture doesn’t have triple arcades.

    Elie. says:
  • A brilliant exhibit of the past glory of the Lebanon. What a pity to destroy such glamorous beauty of art, finance and most important, of the Lebanese themselves! As Robert Fisk’s extraordinary book titled, “Pity the Nation”!

    MR NICOLAS MALOUF says:

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