What is Upcycling:
Recycling is the practice of reusing items that would otherwise be discarded as waste.
Upcycling is a variation of recycling and the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful.
A curvaceous, fifteen-foot woman bending over while looking back over her shoulder is one way to draw attention, and so it is with Junkyard.
The bar’s garish facade perhaps compensates for its inconspicuous location, tucked away on a side road at the end of one of Beirut’s most popular nightlife destinations, Mar Mikhael.
Once inside, the theme of titillating street art continues. Colorful murals of street scenes and other designs adorn the walls of the garden. Silver washing machine drums and pink and blue paint pots hang from a large “tree” constructed out of metal girders. A broken-down tractor-like lawnmower, brought from southern Lebanon, sits on a bed of synthetic grass leading up to the outdoor bar. Seeing that it is happy hour, cocktails are bought. I opt for a Spiced Zombie, a mix of Pernod, absinthe, three types of rum and exotic fresh fruit juice, that comes with a cinnamon stick stirrer and a passion fruit shell containing smoking dry ice.
Fruity and refreshing but with enough kick to raise the dead, I order myself another.
Almost all aspects of the bar are made exclusively with salvaged goods, all sourced in Lebanon. An enormous silver alembic, used to distill arak, sits below the ceiling like a constructivist chandelier, with lampshades fashioned out of missile casings and old gas canisters hanging from it. The blue shipping containers that make up the walls were bought from the dock, and the windows were taken from old buses and washing machines. An outdoor green area with private dining tables used to be a truck which transported Sukleen employees.
Coasters, bar stools, tables and crockery were obtained from closeddown bars and restaurants. Stairs are made from old tank tread, table tops are old doors – some with handles still attached. A room upstairs has a ceiling made from 9,000 arak bottles, and all of the water glasses were once beer bottles, which is why they are an Almaza-esque green in color.
It is pretty clear that recycling or ‘upcycling’ is key to the concept of Junkyard. The bar’s designer Ramy al-Khazen won the Green Mind Award, awarded for commitment and achievements toward sustainability and protection of the environment in the MENA region. While it would be an almost Herculean task to get Lebanon’s population to recycle their trash regularly, Junkyard is at least attempting to raise awareness, clearly displaying their recycling boxes in the bar. The bar is attempting to give the example that something artistic and beautiful can be created out of old junk, with the motto “everything deserves a second chance.” One man’s trash is another man’s boutique gastro-pub.