“We didn’t even know what we were going to end up doing. It was just on the way that we said, ‘Okay, we have the postcards here and it looks so different, let’s just leave them, and maybe people will remember how they looked,’” Gabriela Cardozo said. An architect from Venezuela who moved to Beirut six years ago, she and her husband Joseph Khoury, a photographer, skirt the rubble of the explosion’s aftermath. With 30 postcards on hand, the couple head off to two historic neighborhoods near the center of the explosion in Beirut: Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael.

They are “fashionable areas” famous for their cultural spaces, artists’ studios, boutiques, and popular restaurants. Khoury and Cardozo began the Bouyout Beirut (Houses of Beirut) project in 2016. Here, they feature a three-series photograph of historic houses in Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael. Prior to the blast, the cities already have faded buildings showcased in the couple’s photographs. “We usually see postcards from Beirut that are the same… Everything is very nice and neat. But we felt the need to show Beirut as it is. It’s raw. Sometimes it’s messy. It’s just very real – full of contrasts,” says Cardozo.

Since the explosion at Beirut’s port on August 4, many are growing worried about safeguarding the remains of the city’s architectural heritage. Many historic buildings have been taken down and replaced by modern ones since the end of the civil war, and the citizens fear that the damage caused by the explosion may be used as an excuse for the remaining buildings to suffer the same fate. Now, 1,500 of these citizens have been sharing Khoury and Cardozo’s photographs of them holding up postcards from Bouyout Beirut in front of the shattered buildings.

Multiple threats are circulating, including those planning to abandon the buildings due to lack of funds. However, volunteers have expressed their desire to help and reassured the owners and tenants of the buildings. Saving the buildings is one thing, but saving them for the purpose of preserving their historical value is another. And perhaps, sharing Khoury and Cardozo’s powerful message through photographs might just do the trick.