Area: 50,000 SQM
Project Status: Under Construction
Client: Beam Developers
Keywords: Hi-rise, Housing
Related Projects: Ciel et Jardin II
Design Architects: Benjamin Fortunato, Karim Fakhry
Design Team: Tarek Kamel, Tony Khoury
Architects of Record: Nizar Sabbagh Architects
Structural Engineer: Beam Developers
Structural Consultants: Arup
Unlike cities such as Manhattan that has a regular grid and an evenly sized parcel structure controlled by the 1916 zoning envelope and regional height limitations, Beirut’s Zoning regulations allows for plots over a set area to exceed a universal 50 m height limitation. In areas where the difference in size between parcels is relatively small or where the change in parcel sizes occurs in clusters, the grid can accommodate larger zoning envelopes while still preserving the coherence of the urban grain.
The diagrams above show how the zoning envelope changes dramatically depending on the underlying parcel structure in Zone 5, on the left, and Zone 8, on the right.
In the case where larger plots are set within a finely grained urban texture, this is not the case; suddenly large towers are juxtaposed against a more intimate urban fabric. Beirut’s unique regulatory structure prompts speculative developers to purchase and combine plots in order to accumulate enough plot area to exceed the 50m height limit, thereby exponentially increasing their potential return on investment. The conflation of speculation and Beirut’s ill conceived zoning laws often results in unusually shaped plots of land with less than ideal building frontage, and with a disproportional high FAR in relation to its surroundings.
Shown above is Zone 4, and and the site in Ashrafieh. The diagrams to the left shows the zoning envelope if our site was broken up into a series of individual parcels. The diagrams to the right shows the combined plot of the our site, which now exceeds the 50m height limitation by strategically aggregating smaller plots into a mega plot.
This pattern of development has created a dissonance between the old traditional fabric, the redevelopment of the 50’s and 60’s and the new towers emerging throughout the city. Walking through the city one is struck by the amount of new construction, as huge modern skyscrapers rise up amidst a neighborhood of 4 story ottoman era houses.
“Beirut’s few remaining grand old buildings have gone through a lot over the years. They did well to survive Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, Israeli bombardments of the city and the militia battles that have continued, on occasion, to rock the seaside capital. At least for the time being, though, property developers have displaced mortar shells and rockets as the primary threat to Beirut’s last architectural gems.” Beirut’s Old Buildings Again Under Threat” Josh Wood New york Times January 26, 2011
The coherence of the city fabric is normally preserved through a regular parcel structure and zoning envelope, but in the absence of these constraints, we needed to find a way to re-inscribe the scale of the city back onto the site. This was achieved by projecting a series of urban sections onto the speculative tower.
The city fabric, originally preserved through the parcel structure and a 50m height limitation, is re-inscribed onto the mass in section, dividing the building into 11 story blocks that relate to the surrounding context.
The blocks stack up to creates a vertical village, with public void spaces adjacent to common spaces such as the gym or resident lounge. The voids also allow for circulation throughout the site from the neighborhood, connecting the front and back gardens to the surrounding neighborhood.
Instead of a scaleless impenetrable tower that blocks views and offers little greenery, the design relates to the surrounding neighborhood through the scale of the individual block, as if the surrounding buildings had been stacked on top of each other to create a vertical village.
Public amenities are placed at three different levels taking advantage of the negative spaces created by the six different blocks.
The platforms create multiple roof decks with panoramic views of the city.
A dramatic passageway leads from the rear lobby and garden to the front landscape. The negative spaces between the blocks bring light and views to neighboring buildings, which would otherwise be confronted with a relentless facade.
The apartment variations are all interlocked within a grid based on a structural shear wall system, resulting in column free apartments. Each unit can be transformed from a single open space to a number of different layout configurations. The one-bedroom apartment can be transformed in the future by the residents into a two bedroom apartment that can host a growing family. The four bedroom apartments allow a wide range of interior configurations creating an expansive open public area that spans both facades and benefits from the dual views.
The ground floor lobby and typical floor plans 1-11 are shown above.
Floor 12 which hosts the residential lounge and typical floors 13-22 shown above.
Floor 23 which hosts the gym and typical floors 24-33 shown above.
A view of the rear garden.
An interior view of the lobby.
An interior view of a four bedroom apartment. The lack of interior columns creates expansive open spaces with views and light on both ends of the apartment.
An interior view of a typical apartment.