Today, Beirut built landscape is the result of the country's geopolitical situation and tormented political tensions.
Violence that constantly bears traces on the city’s building skins, hollowing them up in various forms. Leaving out concrete skeletons invaded with nature, changing one’s conception of what a façade ‘opening’ may mean and blurring the boundary between the ‘articulated’ window and the one carrying the memory of a ‘violent’ event. This state of building juxtaposed with the few remaining traditional tiled roof houses and the concrete mass of identical modern constructions holds us into a strange state of euphoric melancholia. Together they constitute a ‘real’ landscape, an almost ‘natural’ one. The city is thus a fertile ground for architectural 'conception', a place in which materiality becomes very important and architectural form bends itself to the context's discourse.
“Stone Gardens” is the materialization of this situation in Beirut. Materialization into a built form of life and death, presence and absence, evanescence and timelessness, beauty and rawness… Located near the industrial port of Beirut, the project takes over the site where the first concrete company was established in the middle east, where a famous Lebanese architect has once located his office, where he has died, where his son, a photographer of renown took over the land to put into life a new project, demolishing the existing building and opening it up for a ‘new’ being. In this context, the emerging building physically dialogues with this invariable absence and presence. The emerging residential project is conceived as a massive sculpture, a direct translation of the building law announcing the death of architectural form. It assumes the rawness of its textured concrete and addresses the substantial act of ‘façade’ opening in Beirut. Hence, its openings embody the dialectic seen in the city, they are not merely viewing frames of various heights, they constitute mass - subtractions expressing the violence of the energy intruding them inwards to become enjoyable inner ‘balconies’. But the absence becomes life; they allow for unique dwelling on each of the floors and inhabit with their various scales different types of gardens to live in and to invade the building. This leaves to nature the possibility to constantly transform the architecture of this intervention.
Collaboration Architect :
Batimat Architects, Beirut
Fouad El-Khoury/ RED Development
Fondation, Gallery, Restaurant, Appartments
BATIMAT Architects, Beirut