Following the Plot in Beirut

Nick Myall
Thursday 19 Apr 2018

This new development on the outskirts of Beirut adds to the recent wave of striking projects in and around the city

Designed by Bernard Khoury, Plot # 1282 is a residential project located on the northern periphery of Beirut in the proximity of one of the city’s abandoned and unused railway terminals, military barracks, leftovers of agricultural land and a 30m wide highway. The zone in which the project is located is not presently considered residential and the program consists of 95 industrial lofts with surfaces ranging from 100 sq m to 650 sq m on a total built?up area of 25,800 sq m.

The floor slabs are organized around nine exposed cores, each core feeding a maximum of two apartments per floor. The proposed lofts feature high ceilings of 5.3m with open space plans and minimal interior partitioning. With a surface area of 5,400 sq m, the site perimeter is of 430m of which less than 12m are facing a public access road. This implies that 97% of the site’s periphery faces parcels on which buildings could be erected at some point in the future.

In its present state, the site enjoys unobstructed panoramic views on all orientations along the totality of the plot’s perimeter. As a result, all proposed loft spaces benefit from full exposure to the exterior through floor-to-ceiling glazing on all elevations.

In an unforeseeable future, as the surrounding plots are constructed and with the gradual densification of the immediate environment, the extensive permeability of the building’s facades will face unpredictable situations. The project’s morphology, with its continuous setback along the totality of the perimeter, as well as its gradually diminishing floor plates foreshadows and responds to this potential condition. The implemented gesture guarantees generous breathing corridors along the site’s entire periphery, for our scheme as well as the future surrounding buildings in question.

In many sectors around the periphery of Beirut, relatively high exploitation factors are applied on zones that are still undeveloped. In the absence of a master plan, the rapid gentrification of these sectors has led to catastrophic urban conditions. In most cases, the general guidelines of the very complex and archaic municipal building laws are the only leading rules and references on which developers build their schemes. In such situations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to define the integration of a project and its relationship on the long term with neighbouring sites. The architect’s project does not only celebrate the present state of its environment, the absence of buildings and the scarceness of the urban fabric on which it sits, it also anticipates the future expansion of its surroundings and its rapport with the unpredictable conditions that will be implied by the development of the sector.

The WAN Residential Award 2018 is open for entries 

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