Architecture

The Beirut Lines

Chee Kin Tan, Jennifer Wei Zhang
Tsinghua University
Malaysia

Project idea

The Beirut Lines envisions a bold elevated public hub, connecting four urban axes of the city and
bridging across the existing urban fabric from the northern coastline towards the Green Line – an
intervention designed to create a new urban culture, inspiring wider regeneration and synthesis on an
urban and social level.
For many years, the Beirut port represented more of a barrier than a connection between the city’s
communities and its coast. The reconstruction of the port area opens up the opportunity for a pivotal
civic gesture that will both catalyse the area and fill the void of active public spaces in the city.

Project description

Urban Catalyst - The Beirut Lines envisions a bold elevated public hub, connecting four urban axes of the city and
bridging across the existing urban fabric from the northern coastline towards the Green Line – an
intervention designed to create a new urban culture, inspiring wider regeneration and synthesis on an
urban and social level.
For many years, the Beirut port represented more of a barrier than a connection between the city’s
communities and its coast. The reconstruction of the port area opens up the opportunity for a pivotal
civic gesture that will both catalyse the area and fill the void of active public spaces in the city.

A Public Hub - Consisting of a series of (semi) open and multi-levelled courtyard platforms, the mixed-use public hub
creates a rich spatial experience that inspires spontaneous moments and interactions between interior
and exterior spaces; contained within a singular rectilinear form. Diverse programmes aim to attract
both locals and tourists, becoming a starting point for dialogue between different social groups.
Central to the scheme is the permeability of the structure and versatility of space, enabling the freedom
to adapt to the public’s needs. While proposing tentative programmes, the architecture does not
impose a strict functional narrative on the users, but instead remains polyvalent by providing a
framework that allows the programme to evolve with the city and its inhabitants.

Elevated Connectivity - While culturally and morphologically diverse, the compromised mobility network and inward-focused
developments of the city have exacerbated the disconnection between the different communities and
neighbourhoods in Beirut.
Converging towards the port site, The Beirut Lines becomes the connective element between the active
coastline and historic Green Line, interwoven into the existing network of organised spaces in-between.
By elevating the structure, The Beirut Lines liberates the ground plane, allowing the brownfield site to
recover through phytoremediation using a sea of sunflowers, and creating better connectivity between
the city and its seafront.

A Symbol of Collective Hope - The revised port zone is located at the east end of the plot, while the brownfield remediation site opens
up different possibilities for the area. We imagine a public recreational landscape at the central
seafront, framed by an urban expansion zone which enables various cultural and commercial uses to
promote greater social integration and economic viability.
In addition to the pragmatic purpose of the brownfield remediation site, it encapsulates the resilience
and strength of Beirut and its people. The memory of the blast and its effects can be observed in two
dimensions: the void and the ruins. The remains of the Silos structure (the ruins) are preserved, with
wire mesh frames tracing the missing pieces, and stand amidst the sunflower field (the void) as a
beacon of hope. Passing through the elevated public hub, users are taken on a journey, following the
gradual recovery process of the site. The Beirut Lines extends the historic Green Line into the remains of
the cardinal Silos structure, linking the memories of the city.

Technical information

Brownfield Remediation Process and Sunflower Phytoremediation Process

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