The Beginning of a Journey

Elissa Attieh
USEK - Holy spirit University of Kaslik

Project idea

The project is situated at Sahel Alma a village with a natural environment and consists in designing the gate of the path of “Dareb El Sama”. The main idea of the project is to create a spiritual and meditation place where nature is respected and highlighted by creating a language between architecture and nature. In this project we will see three aspects of cohabitation between nature and architecture, the first aspect is the laid volume that will be directly in contact with nature and the link between two other cohabitations, the second aspect is the floating volume that will be respecting nature by flying over the field and the last aspect is the integrated volume that will be as close as possible to nature to give a private rating to the functions and to lighten the spaces in the integrated volume and showing some of the major functions of the project some of them will come out of the volume which is indicated by the stone walls and the volume with stone walls will end by with the chapel which is an important function of the project, this chapel is highlighted to recall the spirituality of the environment.

Why is the project disposing this way in the terrain?

The project disposition in the terrain is a reminder of the neighboring environment, where we have the terrain between mountains and a little further the highway. By analyzing these three, we can give each a characteristic: calm, semi-calm and noisy. So the terrain will be divided into three parts the calm where the project functions will be located, the noisy where the parking will be located and in between the horizontal landscape that will be the transition between the two others and most importantly it will be the startup of the neighboring path of “Dareb el Sama” that the project is the main gate.

The project is all in horizontal because horizontality allows better integration into nature.

Project description

The pilgrimage of Dareb el Sama is a religious trail connecting the village of Sahel Alma through paths, stairs, and orchards… at the sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Harissa. Along the way the hikers can discover in addition to the natural panorama, the monastery of Saint Georges and the traditional houses of Sahel Alma. In this project we must know how to think of the layout of each fragment of the project by responding to the “social and ecological” dynamics.

The terrain has a surface of 3000 squares meter with a slope of 20%, the setback of 4.5 meters from all sides and a maximum height of 12 meters.
The project has many different functions, the main ones are the following: the reception area that contains a red cross post, then we have the chapel, the accommodation unit with eight rooms, in addition, to the common area where we can find the restaurant and the multipurpose room and most importantly the fauna and flora research center.
The laid and floating volume will be devoted to the public spaces as the restaurant for example, while the integrated volume will be devoted to the private ones such as the research center that only the resident students can enter.

Also, the project pays an attention to the outdoor spaces which will help visitors to get closer to the flora and fauna and to contemplate the surrounding nature to enter an ecological and spiritual spirit.

Technical information

The floating volume is made with biological concrete paint in white to create a light contrast with the surrounding nature, this volume seems to be floating because it has a double facade the one laid on the volume below and the exterior facade is placed on the volume from two sides and the two others floats thanks to the strength of the concrete to let nature penetrate inside the void that is in between the two facades.

The laid volume has all the facades made of glass. Fine wooden structures cover the facades to create a play of lights and shadows to allow a certain meditation inside the space.

The integrated volume is made principally by natural stone walls to get into the ecological and natural dimension, and because it’s the closest one to nature it should have the same characteristic hence the use of stone that will also create a contrast between the integrated volume and the other volumes.

And finally, the main ramp brings the whole project together by a vertical circulation ( as it’s shown in section BB) as we can also access the different volumes separately from the exterior( as it’s shown in the plans).


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