Reborn From The Ashes

Saša Radosavljevic, Sofia Murer, Jacopo Bonazzi
University of Trento

Project idea

The fundamental idea behind our project is to create a new connection between the city and the sea through the redevelopment of a part of the port area, which previously constituted a separation element. A series of cycle and pedestrian paths developed Starting from the Silos’ area insert then into the city, physically connecting the attractive poles with the new public area. After have linked the new public area and the city we design the area intended for this function on an architectural scale. We want to create a peaceful and memorial place that Beirut's people deserve. To achieve this purpose, greenery and trees are essential to dampen the noise pollution produced by the city and the functional port, they also help to reduce the effect of a city heat island.

Project description

The central place from which everything is born is the Silos, the motionless witness to the tragedy that occurred on August 4, 2020. The starting point was the prevision of a new zoning of the project area in order to avoid an excessive limitation of the square footage necessary for the functional area, verifying the presence of the necessary space for the new warehouses integrated with solar panels (the only form of renewable energy that can be implemented in Beirut, since there are not sufficient winds and tidal variations for the use of other types of systems).
It was also essential to think about the interment of the causeway and consequently the creation of a hilly stretch that linked the new area with the city, because there is currently an important difference in height between the two. A development by terracing made it possible to gain new space below in order to insert a large parking lot, a public transport station and additional services that can be integrated by the municipality.
After this general framework, we proceeded with the development of the concept through the design of the masterplan and of the new cycle and pedestrian paths.
Our aim is to create an area for the city and for the citizens that is not just an opportunity for renewal since we are talking about a tragedy in which many human lives have left us. We want the project to tell the story of the port in such a way that it is perceivable by the innermost sensitivity of each person, that it isn’t forgotten and that it can be a new rebirth.
We think it may be disrespectful to those who have lived this experience firsthand to design in a purely pragmatic way by simply obtaining a new urban area for the rich, leaving completely in the darkness what it once was.
The large multifunctional building was designed in such a way as not to interrupt the visual continuity between the hill behind the port and the sea, in fact it arises from the ground and is developed in length rather than in height. The holes placed inside the structure and hosting the trees also have the function of internal lighting and air exchange. The roof can be walked on and the development of the building constitutes a real panoramic terrace overlooking the new monumental area and the sea.
The commemorative area is characterized by a large light roof made up of inclined strips in such a way as to allow the passage of light. This envelope is cut in correspondence with the Silos and rises towards it as if to embrace and protect it, also symbolizing the rebirth from the ashes. On the best preserved side there is a large body of water which constitutes an element of detachment as a sign of respect, while on the most damaged side it is possible to come into contact with the large cylinders that remind the catastrophic event. On the north side there are two large niches which constitute two places of prayer so that Christians and Muslims can equally honor the dead.
The passenger terminal is made up of seven buildings, designed for greater efficiency in the division of the terminal functions (all the 7 terminals have services for departing and arriving passengers) and to make the transit of passengers disembarking and embarking on cruise ships more comfortable and faster. The inclined flap movement of the roofs, different in all the buildings, is inspired by the motions of the sea waves. Through the glass windows that characterize them, you can admire different views of the port, the city and the sea. Furthermore, to allow a more fluid passage between one building and another, elevated tunnels were thought of as links between volumes.
A commemorative plaque was placed on the street lamps with the names of the victims of this tragedy.

Technical information

All 3 new buildings have different structural grids. The passenger terminal has a cage structure in reinforced concrete with an irregular grid, the pillars are 5m apart from each other and reach the outer edge of the building, so there are no external overhangs. The elevated tunnels that connect the various terminals will be supported by a structure in steel trusses which will be attached to the reinforced concrete cages.
The coverage of the memorial area is totally in steel (pillars, beams and inclined strips), in this case the grid is regular with a 10m pitch, in some cases the pillars were very close, it was therefore decided to use "v" shaped pillars. The retaining wall of the Muslim niche is load-bearing and provides support for the external beams. Inside the roof there will be steel cable bracing. The maximum overhang is 2m.
The large multifunctional building has a steel structure covered with reinforced concrete where it goes underground. The grid is irregular with a 10m pitch, the pillars support curved beams that cover the entire length of the building from the point where it emerges from the ground to the point of maximum height. The lateral overhangs are foreseen for a maximum of 4m. The slope of the panoramic terrace formed by the roof of the building does not exceed 10%, so that it can be accessed by anyone. The vase-shaped structures will be in structural glass with steel supports that will be connected to the main structure with welds or hinges.
For the connection between the city and the port, or for the construction of the terraced hill, it will be necessary to demolish the parapets of the lower floors of the elevated road, after which an extension of the existing structure will have to be built in such a way as to support the upper layers of earth. As far as vertical connections are concerned, the existing stairs are used, only if necessary will it be necessary to intervene on the mezzanine floors to add others. All the ramps that make the new area accessible also to the disabled have a gradient that does not exceed 10%.
Within the project, architectural barriers are almost totally absent. The materials used for the cycle and pedestrian paths are those indicated in the second table, they were decided following a study of the most used materials in Beirut.


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