Posted on May 18, 2021
In response to last August’s Beirut blast, Berytech launched #BuildForBeirut an open call for product designs to support the reconstruction of Beirut in partnership with Wikifactory, members of the international makers community, Makers for Good, Smart Impact, Fab Foundation, and the Fab Arab Network.
In this blog post, Berytech Fab Lab Manager Wael Khalil, takes us through the project that rallied a global community of product developers, makers, designers and engineers to support Berytech’s Fab Lab’s efforts to assist in reconstructing homes in areas destroyed by the blast.
We launched the campaign #BuildForBeirut in response to the August 4 blast that destroyed thousands of homes in the city. The idea was to build a library of global open-source furniture designs that could be easily and affordably produced locally in Beirut, using digital fabrication tools to aid the reconstruction efforts.
Amazingly, many people and communities from around the globe showed us great support and they reacted to our call for help. We received designs from all over the world. Many that were sent via email from friends in the Fab Lab community. Others were shared on the Wikifactory page dedicated to this initiative (https://wikifactory.com/topic/buildforbeirut).
Our friends at Circulo de Estudios de Fabricación Digital de la Universidad de Lima (Cefadi), and the lovely professors Vane Zadel and Edwin Motte, shared the call with their students, who were enthusiastic and motivated to participate in this initiative. More than 60 members joined the response, and they sent us 19 well-documented, unique furniture designs that we used in the reconstruction process.
We were then able to secure funds from Field Ready, an NGO that operates in crisis zones and uses technology to help make critical items when and where they’re needed to save lives, reduce suffering and increase resilience. Their funds helped us buy material, produce furniture in the lab, and outsource the painting activities.
As a result of this collective effort, the Berytech Fab Lab – including myself and Issa Chebaro – produced digitally fabricated furniture pieces using the collected designs. We used the Fab Lab machines and 18 – 21 mm standard plywood boards (2400mm x 1220mm in size) to produce the largest number of products quickly and affordably. Our team volunteered time and effort for the production and assembly.
We worked on a total of 82 furniture pieces including 19 shelves and TV consoles, nine desks and work tables, nine dining tables (including two for children), 37 chairs and one bed.
Once the items were finished, we delivered them to Beit el Baraka to be distributed to people affected by the blast and whose houses were recently refurbished. The distribution of the furniture was done through two phases. During the first phase, 31 piece were offered to seven families based mainly in Mar Mkhayel (67%), followed by Ain El Rammaneh (17%) and Geitawi (16%).
Finally, we’re humbled by the world’s makers community response and by the trust Field Ready has put in us. We are proud that the Berytech Fab Lab is part of this and we hope that our efforts will make even a small difference in the lives of those devastated by the blast.
Wael Khalil is a mechanical engineer specializing in design, digital fabrication and manufacturing. He joined Berytech in 2017 and is currently the Berytech Fab Lab Manager. Wael works closely on various prototyping projects with startups operating in multiple industries. He also has technical experience in operating and controlling a wide range of digital fabrication tools and equipment and has designed and instructed various training workshops for students of all ages and various backgrounds.