The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Bar Elias, Beqaa, Lebanon - Public realm and spaces of refuge

Public realm and spaces of refuge 3 – 8 September 2018, in collaboration with CatalyticAction and supported by The RELIEF Centre

Bar Elias summerLab 2018

We are happy to announce that the the RELIEF centre will kindly provide sponsorship to three local students to support their participation in the DPU summerLab Bar Elias workshop.

The RELIEF Centre is a transdisciplinary research collaboration that focuses on one of the world’s pressing challenges of the moment: how to build a prosperous and inclusive future for communities affected by mass displacement.

The sponsorship will cover the successful applicants’ participation fees and accommodation. Essential selection criteria are: Arabic as first language, fluency in English language. Professional experience in the humanitarian sector is desirable. Other info is available on the application form.

The deadline for the sponsorship application is on Friday 3 August 2018, at 23.59. To apply please email the application form along with your CV and letter of motivation to: info@catalyticaction.org and dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk


Bar Elias is a town located in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon – the main agricultural area in Lebanon. Bar Elias has currently a population of 100,000 inhabitants and in the past few years has seen an increase of 50% of its population as a consequence of the influx of refugees from Syria. According to the UNHCR Lebanon Interagency Coordination Sector, Bar Elias is one of the most vulnerable localities in Lebanon due to the high presence of refugees and the general lack of access to basic needs and livelihoods opportunities.

Syrian refugees (and a number of Palestinian ones) are living in makeshift tents as well as in permanent structures. Recent investments on collective facilities (hospitals, schools, public spaces) have benefited both refugees and ho st population, and in so doing created opportunities for local infrastructural development on one side and, on the other side, for community cohesion.

The DPU summerLab will look at the current public facilities in the central neighbourhood of Bar Elias, with a specific focus on public spaces, their material realities and the use that multiple groups make of them. We seek to reflect on the complexity of the relationships between different group. In so doing we pursue a wider reflection on the host-refugee relationship – very relevant in the current national and international debate.

We will start our investigation from a series of public spaces in Beirut, where participants will meet the workshop facilitators. The group will then move toward Bar Elias, where we expect three days of on-site investigation, interviews and meetings with local organisations and municipality, participants will design interventions that will foster community cohesion in Bar Elias. The workshop will build on CatalyticAction’s previous engagement in Bar Elias and DPU partnership with The RELIFE Centre, a GCRF ESRC research collaboration at UCL Institute for Global Prosperity with American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University and Centre for Lebanese Studies, that focuses on one of the world’s pressing challenges: how to build a prosperous and inclusive future for communities affected by mass displacement, focusing on Lebanon, which has been home to over one million Syrian refugees since the outbreak of civil war in 2011.

The summerLab team will recommend accommodation in Beirut for the first night, organise the transport to Bar Elias and arrange for the participants a hotel in Zahlé, capital of the Beqaa Governorate – only 20mins away from Bar Elias.

Click here to download the application form or write to us at dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk to express your interest. Further information will be provided in due course. Stay tuned and follow our Facebook page for updates!

Application and fees

The DPU summerLab is open to all students and professionals with an interest in urban environments.

The international participation fee for each workshop is £375 (early-bird discounted rate) or £425 (standard rate). The fee is discounted to £275 (early-bird rate) or £325 for: currently enrolled DPU students (2016-17), DPU alumni, and group applications (5 people or more). Discounted fees apply for participants intending to register to multiple workshops too, please contact us for further info. If you wish to submit a group application (five people or more), please use the ‘group application form’ instead (you can find this below in the ‘Applications’ section). Please note these fees do not include travel or accommodation, though advice and local information will be provided.

Participants are responsible for obtaining any visa they might require to which the DPU can provide proof of workshop registration if needed.

Personal equipment

Participants will need to bring their own laptops and digital equipment. Please ensure that this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the DPU cannot take responsibility for items lost or stolen during the workshop.


The deadline for application for the 2018 series will be on Monday 2 July. The deadline for early-bird applicants is on Monday 4 June. The applicant will need to e-mail the form, along with a CV and a letter of motivation to dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk