Beirut Port: An Urban Life Generator


Sergio Zgheib - Peter Aoun, Lea Lahoud - Rita Abi Zeid , Julien Mikhael, Nour Kreidy, Thea Bechara Lebanese University, Institute des Beaux Arts – Department of Architecture

Instagram: @zgheibsergio

Project idea

The aim of "Beirut Port: An Urban Life Generator" is to convert Beirut Port from an industrial barrier to an urban connector.

Project description

“Beirut Port: An Urban Life Generator”, is a project that aims not only to regain the functioning of the industrial part of the port, but also to transform it into an international landmark through different strategies. The design approach began by studying the visual permeability, the public and industrial ratios in the port, connections with nonfunctional landmarks, maritime circulation and creation of new water channels within the project. Some strategies include the creation of a main axis from Electricite Du Liban, through a tunnel under Charles Helou highway directly towards the silos. Soft circulations are incorporated at different spots, one facing the Mar Mkhael Train Station towards Karantina, and one from Mar Mikhael through Charles Helou Bus Station towards the port. All these maintain continuity in the transition and stitching of the now separated regions Karantina, Mar Mikhael, Gemmayze, and Beirut.
The project intends to create a public zone in the port (1st & 2nd queue), through limiting boat traffic and incorporating visitor attraction functions like an opera house and a cultural center, that maintain a dialogue with Martyrs’ Square and serve as a principal entrance from Beirut. The silos are transformed into a memorial linking back to the tragedy of the explosion. Others include a maritime museum, a modern arts museum, a convention center and a commercial center. Facing Charles Helou Bus Station is a mixed-use residential area with a souks street at the very end line near the sea. Taking into account the strategic location of the port and the train station’s historical location near the port, we created a metro station on the 3rd queue as main attraction point. Hence, people coming from the cruise terminal have the possibility to reach out to any location in the country and vise versa. This generates further economic gain and easy access to the port.
The industrial zone (current cranes zone) is restudied and incorporates high tech systems such as high bay storage systems, drone controls, automated vehicles, etc.. . Spaces are studied to serve with maximum efficiency, solving the problem of wasted spaces in the port. The link with Karantina region is also rehabilitated by transforming the region into a economic district, and building an urban balcony that extends along the peripheries.
Finally, our project aims to give a new significance to the Beirut port, through turning it into a main component for the regeneration of Beirut urban life.

Technical information

The industrial part of the port follows a sustainable and self-sufficient design with its high bay storage system made of steel structures and automated panels and trucks, controlled by modern softwares to allow a variety of storage options while reducing the need of space. It is entirely covered by solar panels to ensure the supply of electricity needed to operate.
Water collecting vessels float around the commercial basins of the port to filter the water from all sorts of pollutants and store it in an underground fire water tank for a faster response to emergencies.
Smaller silos are located near the bulk terminal and new ones are added in different Lebanese ports (Saida, Jounieh etc..) for the decentralization of wheat stocking, avoiding future shortage crisis of this essential human need. Moreover, a train station is implemented in the industrial zone to facilitate the transit of merchandise across the country.
Vessel circulation in the port is regulated and filtered as we move towards the public zones, where it becomes almost non-existant. Typological levels are studied and exploited allowing a proper integration of various functions such as the metro lines, parkings, and waterfront promenades at lower levels.

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