FILTER & LINK URBAN CULTURAL LANDSCAPE BEIRUT
STEPHAN WIMMER FILTER & LINK
Masterarbeit Eingereicht an der Leopold-Franzens-Universit채t Innsbruck, Fakult채t f체r Architektur, zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades Diplomingenieur. Betreuung DI Walter Prenner Institut f체r Experimentelle Architektur /.stuio3 Innsbruck, am 27. November 2013
Maps Old Beirut The Green Line The new Beirut City Centre Density Public Space Public Transport The Site
Stacking vs. Shared Space Diagrams References Working Models Cave vs. Nest Filter & Link
Physical Models Plans / Sections Diagrams Physical Model
The aim of this thesis is to participate in the discussion of the gentrification process in Beirut where low-income communities are replaced by upper class commercial and residential developments. Topics like efficiency are mainly `single person profit` oriented, but why not seek a `user oriented` efficiency where more than just one person is able to enjoy the fruits? It would be naive to ignore that we are living in a capitalist society, but architecture should still go beyond just being a service only aiming for maximising profits and raising a brandâ€˜s value at the cost of public interest. Learning from the mistakes of others is an important thing, but still the same investment bubbles are being blown up all over the planet like nothing ever happened. An urban fabric needs public spaces and public transportation as a spine for a healthy society.
ISRAEL JORDAN KUWAIT
The map on top shows LebaNIGER non stretching along the Mediterranean coast, connecting Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The map on the right shows Beiruts‘ location in Lebanon and the 2 most important surrounding cities. Damascus as the capital of Syria and Tripoli in the north of Lebanon which was bigger than Beirut in the 19th century.
Beirut Map Source: American University of Beirut
Working „scientifically“, even if I would not call architecture a science, to me means to filter research done by others and link those filtered topics to get some basic knowledge as a base layer for a project. Most of the first analytic part is based on Esther Charlesworth`s book „Architects Without Frontiers“ the blog site spatiallyjustenvironmentsbeirut.blogspot.co.at, beirutreport.com and experiences gained during a one-week trip to Beirut in May 2013. A lot of topics are intense so I will just bring the „tip of the iceberg“ through quotes and opinions to point out the main issues.
Weygand_street, 1958, source: LIFE Magazine
Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943. The 1960s were the glory years with just about everything you can imagine. A video produced in this time shows “Sahet Al Burj” (Marty‘s Square, on the bottom left picture) as a lively, public space including the „souks“ ( ...“a vibrant and cosmopolitan market section of the former downtown area that had been shared by members of all faiths and sects before the war“1). In the „Paris of the Middle East“ how they called Beirut, there was as much traffic as on any other international airport, women wore bikinis while riding their water-skis behind a boat, there was public green spaces and there was no skyline full of ugly high-rises. Beirut changed a lot after 1975 when the 16 year civil war began. Public spaces were destroyed and turned into battlefields.
1 Esther Charlesworth (Architects Without Frontiers, 2009) all images found on oldbeirut.com
10 Martys Square, 1958, source: LIFE Magazine
Allenby street, 1958, source: LIFE Magazine
Phoenica hotel, 1960, source: LIFE Magazine
Vegetable Market, 1900, source: Matson Collection
Cafe in Beirut,1960s, source: LIFE Magazine
„1982 to 1992 the green line devided Beirut creating an overgrown and deserted landscape - 12% green“
Today „about 1.8% of public green space exists“ - accoring to the WHO this is 1/22 of the area necessary to be a healthy city.
The Green Line: During the 16 years of civil war in Beirut the Green Line (referring to the nature taking over in this war-zone of destroyed, abandoned buildings and empty streets) emerged as a demarcation line along the main North-South road axis dividing the city into West- (Muslim) and East-Beirut (Christian) with each side under the control of its militias. „The Lebanese commonly refer to the civil war as Al-Hawadeth, an Arabic phrase suggesting not so much a war `between each other` but a war of others on Lebanese soil.“1 „The Arabic name for this front line is: Khutout at tammas ,which means, more accurately in plural `confrontation lines`.“ Moystad (1998: 421) „Bus lines stopped at the demarcation line; roads were closed and only a few gates were kept open.“2
Telecommunication and electricity cables were cut between two sectors and water was distributed to the `other side` according to the whims of the local militia leaders“3 „..many accounts of the war describe the actual fight that would emerge locally for a few months or a couple of years, as almost always very localized or on one or two fronts at the same time, or internal to each sect (that is, everyone fought everyone, not just Christians fighting against Muslims). Thus, there was intra-Christian fighting, intraMuslim fighting, intra-Shi`a fighting and intra Shi`a-Druse fighting ...“4 „Ironically, between the `events`or mini-wars, there were large periods of relative calm, with more or less constant tensions at the internal front lines“4 1,2,3,4 Esther Charlesworth - Architects Without Frontiers (2009)
Muslim Population in West Beirut 1975 (65%) 1989 (95%)
Muslim Population in East Beirut 1975 (40%) 1989 (5%)
Data Source: Nasr, 1996
In Black: Percenentage of Muslim population living in West and East Beirut before and after the war. Formerly mixed up neighbourhoods of multiple confessions disappeared and were replaced by homogeneous ones on both sides of the demarcation line.
The new City Centre: Beirut or Dubai? The rebuilt city center as some kind of a protected „glamour zone“ with its large scale commercial and residential projects. Resulting in an island-like city within the existing city to attract the SUV-driving Lebanese and foreign upper class. `Neo-Colonialism`
„There was a shift in the centre of gravity to the outskirts with residents moving into religiously homogeneous suburbs, or single community ghettos. This further fragmented the population along sectarian lines.“ Beyhum (1992a: 44) „While the Green Line separated the many groups in conflict, many Beirutis have argued that the new `red line` drawn around Solidere`s project boundary is an even sharper line between those who have, and those who do not. Other architectural and political commentators have suggested that Beirut is now, in fact, far more polarized than it was just after the war in 1991.“ Esther Charlesworth - Architects Without Frontiers (2009)
Another interesting phenomena is the well designed, almost empty plazas in the city centre and at the yacht harbour. These are privately owned... and boasting signs that prohibit everything that usually defines a public space. „Nevertheless the Solidere Project only affects about 1.8 square kilometers, approximately one-tenth of the destroyed city area, while little attention has been paid to the wider metropolitan region in formulating planning strategies for the post war city of Beirut.“ Esther Charlesworth - Architects Without Frontiers (2009)
Density: Verticality in the urban context is mainly connected to economic and spatial efficiency. Before going to Beirut I was thinking about a vertical public space. This changed while talking to some locals and walking through the city. The idea of something horizontal seemed much more appropriated to me after my visit. Every time the investment curve flattened out because of rising property prices, the zoning law was changed to allow another few extra floors to attract investors again. Looking at the city`s vertical development you can tell when a building was built just by its Z-dimension (shown in the diagram on top). There are almost no low-rise buildings lately because it just doesn`t pay off considering the current property prices. â€žIf you wanna build something for us, build something flatâ€œ Beiruti
Public Space or the lack of it Walking through different areas looking for differences and similarities. The Corniche (image on the right) seems to be the best working public space in Beirut while in other areas it seems that public life only exists in leftover spaces that are not accessible by car. The Majority of public spaces like sidewalks are claimed by parking cars.
The Corniche at the north end of Beirut.
Markets are spatially, socially and culturally way more complex than just buying and selling items. For me bargaining and getting into conversations with vendors and customers is as important as purchasing the product itself. „Souq Ukadh used to be held in pre-Islamic times in an area between Mecca and Ta’if during the month of Dhu alQi‘dah every year. While it was a busy market, it was more famous for poetry competitions, judged by prominent poets“ Wikipedia.org / Souq Escalier de Saint Nicolas in the eastern part of Beirut.
Street market in the western part of Beirut.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION or the lack of it
Data Source: MEYMERIE, F. (1999), ‚Transport Plan for Greater Beirut‘ in LTP
Beirut had a 12 km long Tram system from1908 to 1965. „As automobiles became more widely adopted, tram tracks were removed to give way for more cars until the tram was fully decommissioned in September 1968.“ Wikipedia. org, Beirut Tramway
The tram in Weygand street, in the1950s, Source: oldbeirut.com
TAXI + BUS 7-10%
In 2013 the city is dominated by private cars stuck in traffic jams. The traffic of a world city squeezed through the alleys of a village. Walking is something for the `poor` so most don`t even think about the traffic itself as long as they are sitting in a fancy air-conditioned car while handling their business on the mobile phone. Private shared taxis are handling the semi-public transportation. This so -called `service` at a fixed price (around 1 $) picks up people who are going into the same directions, constantly dropping and picking up new customers on a flexible route. A funny way of getting squeezed in between strangers. Today the streets of Beirut are dominated by traffic jams and parking cars.
Bliss Ras Beyrouth
Mar Elias Sodeco
Mazraa Ramlet el-Baiida
Cornich du Fleu
Jnah Bir Hassan
Haret el-Hreik Chiyah Hazmieh
Source: Drawing over a map by David Hury and Hassan Choubassi „Metro de Beyrouth“
Metro Map The fictional metro map proposed by David Hury and Hassan Choubassi is a nice example how public transportation could work in Beirut.
In the past building new roads never solved traffic problems, but the pictures below show current plans of houses being taken down to pave the way for new roads. Image sources for all pictures below: beirutreport.com/
Working Models There are a lot of influences and ideas in mind. Sometimes starting with a basic idea and developing it through a process of series leads to something you might not need at the moment, but still you will always be able to pick some ideas from it for later projects. I personally prefer the `take-what-you-have-around` method of doing working models to the `buy-the-specialmaterial` method. Same like in cooking with the compose `what-you-find-in-the-refrigerator` method compared to the `buy-the-right-ingredients` for one recipe. Both in working models and cooking it does only work if you got a few basic ingredients around.
Landscape or Terrain? Working models: a gradient from flat to a sloped low landscape to alleys into a slow vertical development.
Vertical Public Space
A working model dealing with vertical development of public space. Structurally inspired by Enric Ruiz Gelisâ€˜ office building in Barcelona, a basic structure provides a frame for a complex hanging structure that connects the different levels. Itâ€˜s much easier to create complex shapes with tensile structures because they got a fraction of the columns` dimension, so using more of them to create a shape is less complicated and also effecting the interior less or different.
The Site Area 11.640 m²
The Site Along the former green line, about 10 minutes of walking from the city centre, there is a 170 by 60m property, currently mainly used as a parking lot, for car retail and as a material storage for the construction site on the south end. A leftover space between the sunni/shia mixed areas in the west and south and the mainly christian area in the east that is only a five minutes walk away from the St. Joseph University. Sodeqo square is a dead shopping centre with a cinema and a housing tower on top of the south-east end of the site. The Barakat Building on the southeast corner is a historic building transformed into a sniper nest during the civil war that will be turned into a museum. Other surrounding functions are a school on the southwest corner, next to an ATV retailer, a casino, various restaurants on the east side followed by a heating and cooling company, a laundry on the north, a Croissant shop and cafe on the north-west corner and a gas station on the west side. The main 6-lane road on the west side of the site is highly frequented and almost impossible to cross during the day without getting hit by a car. â€žMore important than the shape of the architecture at this site are the functions that are implementedâ€œ Karim, my support in Beirut
Map Source: AUB
Concept: The proposed project on the following pages is seen as one part of a bigger process of recreating a cultural and infrastructural backbone and identity for Beirut. It needs different types and scales of interventions, spread out through the existing urban fabric connected by a public transportation system. Refering to Esther Charlesworths „city as a spine“ instead of „city as a heart“ like in the Solidere project.
Combining public functions over time, in a sense of user oriented efficiency that results in additional public space. A market that goes beyond purchasing items, which is filtered to a minimum functional defined area leaves space for sports facilities and other cultural occasions after returning its share of the blur space at its peak hours. Proposing the first subway station in Beirut without even having a subway system means there is a pre-use of this space by other functions. A lot of facilities are built for the one time maximum requirement of space. (Especially Stadiums for the Olympics). This projects aims at creating a flexible space, which will serve not just within those few peak times, but can as well be used in some way the rest of the times. A functional „grey zone“ for Beirutis.
MICRO BUSINESS THEATHER CINEMA SUBWAY
Stacking: Conventional stacking vs. shared space
Conventional stacking of functions in a mixed use project results in a lot of space defined for one specific function throughout time. Every Function has its own infrastructure.
EAT MARKET NIGHTLIFE
NIGHTLIFE INFRASTRUCTURE SPORTS PARK
MUSIC EAT MICRO BUSINESS CINEMA THEATHER
Shared Space: conventional stacking vs. shared space Combining functions throughout time by reducing the functions to the minimum space required to be specialized. On demand parts of the shared space are being occupied. Building the same volume as in conventional stacking with this kind of SHARED SPACE organisation results in additional space, -public spaceTowards an oriented efficiency!
EAT MARKET NIGHTLIFE INFRASTRUCTURE
MUSIC EAT MICRO BUSINESS CINEMA
The market is shrinking after 2 pm leaving space for playing basketball and a big stair/ramp to sit on and watch movies at night. Horizontally continuous areas are specialized, monofunctional ones. The Rest of the required space is taken from the grey shared/public space on demand.
Gora Steps Kuta, Bali. Sources: stophavingaboringlife.com
Photo credit: Marcel Wankm端ller
are important The next few pages are dedicated to references that show the deconstruction of functions to the necessary minimum, which is possible by using a shared space. Learning from informal organisation. Above: The Gora Steps in Kuta, Bali are being used as access to the shops on top and for booking tours as a tourist during the day. Almost every night it is the party warm-up spot with a 24/7 shop and the stairs in the front to sit on and hang out.
How much more do you need for having a good coffee? Beirut, at the site I chose for the project.
Does every cinema have to be a specialized multiplex that is empty during the day? The minimum requirement for a cinema is a pitched surface and a wall to project on. Stairway Cinema by OH.NO.SUMO
Stairway Cinema by OH.NO.SUMO, Source Dezeen.com
This 40 cm wide bike shop in Tokio uses the wide sidewalk in the front during operation hours to fix bikes. When the shop is closed the occupied surface is reduced to the minimum space that is required for storage. Source: Pet Architecture - Studio Bow Wow
Analog series: Transforming the required mass towards space and connections to the surrounding. Scale: 1: 1000
Analog vs. Digital or Analog + Digital a process There are always limitations, specific to material ones in physical models or software scripting based restrictions in digital modeling. Switching media and scale often results in a quality improvement. A mix of digital and analog tools turned out as a helpful technique for the process. Analog adaptable models built of single curved paper layers in different scales with digital layers projected on the physical model for easier organisation.
Cave vs. Nest by Sou Fujimoto
“A ‚nest‘ is a place for people that is very well prepared, everything is assembled and very functional, meanwhile the ‚cave‘ is just a raw space, which people need to explore and find their own comfort within. This is a situation where people can use space creatively. I prefer something like the cave-like-unintentional space. Something that is in between nature and artifact - formless form.“ Source: Designboom Interview with Sou Fujimoto 2008
Sou Fujimoto`s way of categorizing space in a functional way is a main inspiration not just for this project. The user profits from undefined space that can be defined by the user itself depending on demands into some improvised space.
Filter & Link a process
The basic idea is to filter functions and link them. Specific functions like a market, eating, nightlife, sports, a cinema and micro business can be filtered/deconstructed to a minimum and then reconnected with a link. In this particular case the link is a functional, `cave` like blur space connecting the minimized `nest` like functions. It acts as a field, allowing different ways of claiming the space on demand throughout the peak times and withdraw it again to other functions or as public space after demand. By reducing the specialized space to the minimum, different functions can use the same shared space at different times which results in a higher density/efficiency with more available space at the same time. This efficiency could lead to a smaller volume of a building or in my case, building the same volume and giving the additional space that is being created through more density in other areas, to the public as public space. A user-oriented efficiency. There are links in different scales and links within the link. On an urban scale two parts of the city are linked together, in the project itself there are main links and others that appear and disappear when functions expand and shrink offering shortcuts. Another example of a filter & link reference comes from neuroscience. Scientists found out that people with brain damage on the left side of the brain (responsible for language, mathematical computations, logic ...) create new links to areas on the right side of the brain because the original area is not capable of fulfilling the tasks anymore. This results in a much higher memory for processes. In one study they found out that a mental arithmetic genius is using his long-term memory as a buffer for calculations instead of using the short-term memory which results in a much higher performance because this area has a much bigger memory available. Transfering this back to architecture this means that there are areas that could process tasks of other areas even better than the one responsible for it - if we find a way of linking.
The Architect as a DJ The Dj and producer Parov Stelar talks about a happy accident of an old Bilie Holiday Vinyl getting stuck, repeating the same section over and over again and he really liked the loop which led him to something independent: Electro-Swing, old sounds combined with synthie-beats, a mix of House, Electro, Jazz and Downbeat. The Album is called â€žThe Art of Samplingâ€œ. Blurring genre boundaries and taking good samples of architecture (not just visually, but also forms of organisation) and combining them with a smart link to bring all the different parts together to one piece without being a collage (a word that frightens some architects). Bruce Lee got famous for combining different martial arts styles to one thing, filtering the different styles and linking the right part of different genres together.
Work in-progress models before adding the roof.
Construction Site: The elements are prefabricated with the technology taken from big steel vessels and airplanes. A double curved surface resulting from a patchwork of single curved steel panels held in place by steel ribs.
This Page: Floorplan of the lower level Next Page: The program throughout time
EAT MICRO BUSINESS CINEMA
M ar ket
M ar ket
M ar ket
M ar ket
Furniture and oversized stairs of the blur space are being occupied through the peak hours around noon for eating just for the few hours of demand and afterwards shrinking again to the minimum required specialized space for cooking and storage. Unlinking the fixed spatial area for eating from cooking in a conventional â€žrestaurantâ€œ. This area can be used for other functions later in the day/at night. Infrastructure like toilets are public and can be used throughout the day by others.
M icro Busine
t N igh l I fe
Site Plan Right Page: Map Source: AUB
Floor Plan: Lower Level
Floor Plan: Upper Level
+ 7,88 + 6,60 + 5,93
The structure on the lower level consists of plywood boxes in different scales and heights for presenting and storing items during the market hours. The floor is cooled by water pipes in the concrete during the summer months.
The same structure is left over as some kind of an undefined furniture after the market operation hours leaving space for some public life. The stairs and concrete blocs are heated via thermal activation during the winter months when the temperature drops too low.
Interior Render: Afternoon: A market, which is filtered to a minimum functional defined area leaves space for sports facilities and other cultural occasions after returning its share of the blur space required throughout its peak hours.
Physical Model: Scale: 1:200
â€žThere is no end productâ€œ Johannes MĂźnsch Everything is just in a temporary state and was something else before and will be something different some day. It`s all about the process.... ... and the process was fun.
Thanks to everyone who helped me in: Niedernsill Innsbruck Beirut and Kyrgyzstan I would love to write all your names here but I am sure I would forget some important names that should definitely be on this list.
Published on Jan 7, 2014