Everyday I look at Benghazi’s freedom square, I feel upset. Every moment I drive by the square, I feel so sorry about this remarkable spot in a city that was called someday the spark. Freedom Square is the first place where people have sought their dignity and freedom after 42 years of dictatorship.
I remember this report from CNN on Benghazi and its revolution against Muammer. This video shows how people gathered in Freedom Square to show the world they are against Gaddafi.
When I was studying in the US, I had to pick a topic for my Master of Architecture (MArch) thesis. Because I was far away from Libya at the revolution time, I wanted to participate by doing anything. And what was more important than the current situation at the time in Libya.
As a Libyan first, and an architect, I had to pick a topic is entitled under Architecture and Democracy. I knew that the revolution has drawn a democratic path to the new Libya. This change in Libya will effect on everything, including the type of architecture and how to embody the principles of democracy on it. I have done my long research on the affect of democracy on architecture and its users. I will try to write a topic about the relationship between the two things in my blog soon.
My research is needed to be applied on real architectural projects, not just on research base. Therefore, I had to choose one type of buildings in Benghazi to apply what I have found in my research.
The entire world has witnessed the Libyan revolution. The Freedom Square is the heart of this revolution. Squares in Arab Spring have played the main part, such as Tahrer Square in Cairo. The Courthouse of Benghazi is the symbol of our revolution, as we need justice among us. Justice was the first demand for Libyans. Therefore, I have picked the heart and the symbol to apply my research. At the time, Freedom Square was the place, which has a meaningful feeling to all Libyans. That’s why I wanted to re-imagine and develop this space plus applying what I have found. The motivation has driven me to help and do my thesis on the favorite place to all Libyans.
I have designed and applied the four principles of Democratic Architecture on Freedom Square and the courthouse of Benghazi. The diagram below shows the four points on how they relate to each other.
The next thing was to design the building, and I have considered the typical issues of designing any building types, such as its circulation, program, and perfect user experience. So, I eventually created a building and a square that represent the future of democratic Libya.
Unfortunately, after 3 years of the revolution, the heart and the symbol have been neglected. The square looks now disaster. Benghazi Courthouse was bombed last August, and since that time no one pay attention to renovate it. Furthermore, people have moved their protest to another place. I have no idea why people decided to protest in front of Tebisty Hotel instead of Freedom Square. Probably I need to establish a research about why the center of protesting has changed in Benghazi.
Freedom Square and Benghazi’s Courthouse are not what I was dreaming about. They completely have changed to a typical place. I hope I’m wrong. And I wish someday see them as I vision them back in my studies.
For people who visit and know these places in Benghazi, what’s your point? Let me know your reaction when you come by the square.