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Prework “Beirut city forum and visitor centre�

Student Tutor

Fatima Farran Ole Møystad

NTNU Spring 2013

Co ntents Introduction 5 Intention 7 Background 11 History 12 Development vs. Archaeology 15 Site 17 Program 25 Schedule 29 Sources 33 Literature 34 Pictures 35 Appendix 37 Preface 38 Aspiration 39 Revision 41



Fascinating and dramatic, Beirut is rarely what people expect but always much more than they imagined. Understanding it, however, is another story. It’s Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. A 6,000-year-old city, primarily built in the 1950s; home to the most active cultural scene in the region but only two public museums. It has a violent past and a vibrant nightlife, so gets portrayed either as the city of night or the city of nightmare. There are, as every excitable foreign journalist is eager to remind us, mullahs and moviehouses, hijabs and high heels. If that is a revelation, it is not to Beirut. A city of everyone, belonging to no one, which plays the interstices for all that they are worth, it is not about binaries. Or unities. With 1.9 million magnificent individuals who only agree to disagree, and 18 different religious communities, each with a distinct idea of how to live, Beirut invented the art of navigating contradictions.

- Wallpaper, city guide Beirut 5





I am going to design a visitor centre in Beirut, which is a convention centre that focuses on the historical and contemporary aspects of the site and the city. The building design and its surrounding public space should promote curiosity and learning about Beirut. The visitor centre should have elements that can accommodate both active visitors as well as random people passing by. It should present itself as a neutral companion in the cityscape and complement the existing urban fabric. In a time of political disagreement and regular military actions, it is more important than ever to focus on what Lebanon and Beirut has to offer both to the Lebanese and to those who come to visit.





H is tor y

Beirut arouse as an important centre in the Roman empire during the first century B.C. The cities wealth gave room for arts and intellectual life to flourish.

The era of Beirut as the centre of law was abrupted by an earthquake in July 551 A.D killing thousands of people and causing most monuments and buildings to collapse. The many layers of occupation and destruction in the following years make the city a rich and complex archaeological site. The illustration on the following page shows the periods in Beirut’s past which have been revealed through archeological excavations in the city center.

Rome and Byzantine were two other major centres in the Roman Empire, Beirut nevertheless emerged as the centre for teaching law. The chronicler Libanius praised the city as ”mother of law” and Beirut lived up to this description. When the Roman Empire collapsed in the West, Beirut’s strategical location between Constantinople and Alexandria made the city prosper as the focal point of the imperial rule.

The development of Beirut during the last decade has been dominated by a strong desire of efficiency, results and prosperity. The consequence being that Roman ruins have been bulldozed and the remains of this era relegated to the city dump. The awareness of the archaeological layers of the city, has increased, but there is still a conflict of interest between economy and development and preservation of the traces of the past.


Beirut 2012 AD 1943 1920 1516 1291 1100 1000 AD 750 661 395 64 Year 0 - Christian Era 333 550 1200 1000 BC

2000 BC

Independence Ottoman

Fre n c h M a n d a t e Mamluk


Abbasid Umayyad


R o m a n






3000 BC 13


D e ve l o p m e nt vs. Arch a e o l o g y

Lebanons biggest income source is, and has always been, related to oversees relations, either through import/export or through tourism. Leila Badre, Director of the Archeological Museum at the American University of Beirut, has uttered the importance of preserving historical sites, not simply to restore Lebanese heritage, but also to promote tourism. “It is not a question of only archaeological excavations, but how to preserve the ruins while allowing new development.” - “Rebuilding Beirut” by Andrew Lawler in “Archaeology” July/August 15







The site chosen for this task is located in Beirut Central District, aka Downtown, Lebanon. Archaeological discoveries in the city centre have revealed the layout and planning of Roman Berytus as shown on the top diagram. The site is situated parallel to the old Roman Cardo axis going through the archaeological park and the roman baths. This is the area where archaeologists have found most traces of the Roman law school and where they presume it was most likely located.

Medieval city wall and gates Roman grid Possible site of ancient buildings (1996) Area of archeological opportunity (1996)

The site is located adjacent to the biggest town square in Beirut, namely Martyr Square. Martyr Square has been one of the principal meeting points in the city for more than 100 years and has become a symbol of national unity especially after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. The “Green line” was a line of demarcation during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990. It separated the mainly Muslim factions in West Beirut from the Christian Lebanese Front in East Beirut. This space of “no-mans land” stretched right through Martyr Square.



Amir Munzer Mosque Roman Baths Parliament

The site is a part of a larger city block consisting of a variety of buildings and functions ranging from several mosques and churches to hotels and shopping facilities. All of which are surrounding the Roman excavation located in the centre of the block.

Al Omari Mosque Amir Assaf Mosque Le Gray Hotel Martyr square Virgin Megastore

St Elias GreekCatholic Church

Beirut Gardens

The plan on the lower diagram illustrates the range of physical constraints and opportunities identified in the Solidere sector plan of the area.

Visitors Centre

Archaeological park St George GreekOrthodox Cathedral

Mohamad Al Amin Mosque Grande Theatre

The site of the visitors centre is marked as “development parcel� and its size is approximately 1750 sqm.

public open space known archeological site retained buildings the site





Main Lobby and central public services

Spaces for external service providers

Welcoming entrance: Should be obvious to all visitors

CafĂŠ/restaurant area: A bright and open area easily accessed from the reception and preferably in visual relation to the archeological excavation situated at the site. It should be able to handle app. 70 guests. Part of the space should offer the capacity to open out to external dining areas when the weather allows. It may incorporate several independent but linked spaces, in order that groups or special parties may be catered for independently of the regular custom.

Reception area: The principal arrival point for all visitors. A clear and functional orientation space from which the visitors can decide where to go next. The space must be large enough to cater for the arrival of large groups. Flexible exhibition space: For archeological displays and cases. This could form part of the reception area or be separate to it. Meeting room/area for use by Centre staff, incoming teachers or community organizations: The room must be capable of comfortably accommodating a group of approximately 40 children or adults. Public lavatories and baby feeding/changing facilities: Should be fully accessible, ideally, another suite of lavatories should be provided in association with the meeting room to provide self-contained facilities.

Cloakroom: Not necessarily supervised Retail area/shop: Located adjacent to the reception area, or possibly combined with the reception area. Servery: A single or perhaps split servery for the sale of hot and cold foods and light snacks, drinks and cakes. Kitchen: A fully equipped catering standard kitchen suitable for the preparation of all food available within the cafĂŠ/restaurant Kitchen Storage: A fully equipped catering standard storage for all kitchen goods, including built-in refrigeration. There should be direct access for deliveries to either the kitchen or the kitchen storage


Staff facilities


Staffroom: A small but comfortable room with chairs and lockers for use by staff preparing or completing their shifts.

Library: library collections area

Offices: A minimum of two; one for retail and catering use, and one for other staff/volunteer use. Offices should not be accessible from public areas. Convention center Main circulation area: first encounter when entering this part of the building, second orientation point. Meeting room/area for use by Centre staff, incoming teachers or community organizations: The room must be capable of comfortably accommodating a group of approximately 100 children or adults. Auditorium: Hall with 200 seats for lectures, presentations and movies

Fixed client-service point: Room for 2 staff members Quiet areas Cloak room Not necessarily supervised Photocopy, print out and scanning point. Service spaces Storage room(s): To accommodate tables, chairs, stationery, education resources, tools and general kit etc. IT Cleaning facilities

Lounge: Space to invite for informal discussions and creative exchange of ideas during conferences and meetings Lavatories and water stations: Located in connection to the main circulation area.





January Week 01 Week 02

February Week 03

Week 04

Week 05


Week 06

Week 07

Exc u r s io n to B ei rut

Uke 08

Week 09

Week 10


3D model Case study OSLO -tutoring -Nobel piece centre

Diploma week

Week 11

- volume studies - sketch modeling - design Reassessment & Revision

CONCEPT models 1:500 1:200

Proce s s colle c te d data

Analysis Tutouring January 17th 30

Tutouring February 13th

Tutouring March 13th

April Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

May Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Week 18

Week 19

Week 20

Week 21

Week 22


Reaction Work in Munich

The public floor: sketch modeling

Production Final stage starts here

Design! The building: concept meets form

- Floor plans - Sections site model 1:500



Printing / exhibition

INTERVIEW Prepare presentation


model 1:200 Tutouring April 16th 31




Lite ratu re

Internet window&viewMode=doublePage Books ”Beirut Reborn” by Angus Gavin and Ramez Maluf “Wallpaper”, city guide 34

Pi c tu re s

Page 4,-the-Other-Lebanon. html Page 6 Page 8 http-// Page 10

Page 14


Page 16

“Beirut Reborn” page 58

Page 40 mohammed- el-amine-mosque-in-beirut-lebanon Diagram 1 page 23 “Beirut Reborn” page 23 Diagram 2 page 25 “Beirut Reborn” page 130 Maps page 18 & 19 Maps page 20 & 22 Google maps 35




Pre face

This preliminary work was done during the fall semester 2012 based on knowledge acquired through research done whilst being in Trondheim. As a kick-off for the assignment, I left for a 10-day visit to Beirut. During my stay, I met with several people whom all had different outlooks on the future and history of the city. My encounter both with people, whom know the city and its situation up close, and my own experiences, has made me revise my program and the intention of the centre I am designing. I chose to add this as an appendix as I see both the task description and the program as a part of my process in solving the task at hand. 38

As p i rati o n

I want to tell the story about Beirut being the cradle of the law system we still to this day base our civic order upon. Situated in a context characterized by on-going political turmoil, this is in my opinion the right place for a voice to demand a focus on the important issues of civicness in Lebanon’s presence and history. The idea of civic rights has a strong message, however it is a fragile one. If these columns of society are breached, the system falls apart. Can I reinterpret this into an architectural design? 39


Revision I am going to design a visitor centre in Beirut adjacent to Martyr square. The center is both a public center promoting the history of Beirut and tourism as well as a Convention center intended for NGO activity. The city has revealed many traces of the past, amongst others of the Roman era. Beirut was the site of one of the most famous ancient institutions; the Roman Law school. This institution was about building a civilized society and establishing civic rights. Through both the theme of my project and the site chosen I want the idea of the Roman Law school to be reborn and a centre of civic rights established on one of Beirut’s most attractive sites, both contemporarily and historically. The centre should present itself as a neutral companion in the cityscape and complement the existing urban fabric. In a time of political disagreement and regular military actions, it is more important than ever to focus on what Lebanon and Beirut has to offer both to the Lebanese and to those who come to visit. 41

Prework Beirut city forum and visitor center  
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