An architecture for living in Beirut
It is a question of urbanity, of echo.
Not pastiche – renewal of vocabularies from previous eras.
Not cloning – reproduction of the computerized model of office towers to the west.
It is a question of having the right ambition. In the midst of rich historical testimonies stretching from the Roman Empire to the early 20th century, how can one positively introduce an attitude of the early 21st?
The program is rich, the density strong. We must create one the of the city’s epicentres. There are no examples of important architecture, architecture that traverses centuries, without typological invention. It’s the deeper nature of buildings that is in question. Invention in the sense of history, without denying yesterday, without trying to be tomorrow. Invention that translates today’s values.
We are in Beirut, a city with an exceptional climate. There is no reason to have here a building that could be in Montreal, Berlin or Tokyo.
Here there is a cultural heritage, Mediterranean, Phoenician, to reinterpret. Inside, outside, in-between; terraces, loggias, atriums. There is light, brilliant sunlight, and its consequence, shade. There are the colours of the city: golden stone, real, and purple, symbolic. There is vegetation. These are our points of departure, our architectural material. We want shops that continue the tradition of arcades, and also those of the souk, but without perpetuating the conditions of another age. We want offices that are pleasant to live in, bathed in the right amount of light, calmed by vegetation. We want a hotel that has the qualities of great international hotels but that is a “someplace” and not the eternal standard that tires frequent travellers. We want to create the desire to come here, to stay here, a place that is calm, comfortable, hedonistic. The fitness centre will dominate Beirut, its unique covered terrace a friendly meeting place. The restaurant is where it needs to be, in direct relation to the rooms, the lobby, the view, the fitness centre…
Each of these programs has a singular, attractive typology, because real estate value is created in places that are the more pertinent, more seductive, more pleasant to live in than others. This holds true for the condominiums, which are true villas with enormous terraces, beautiful views, and shaded gardens.
The whole thing is like a little city. Unique. It will have its place alongside the markers and monuments of past centuries on the visitors’ map of Beirut.