The Archive Machine : Beirut Silos E-Government Data Center

Jamil Tarraf Labaki
Notre Dame University–Louaize, Faculty of Architecture, Louaize

Project idea

The Beirut Port Silos have witnessed the city’s simulation since they were built in 1970. Surviving the Beirut Explosion, studies showed that it shielded the west side of Beirut from further damage. this protector of grain transformed into the front-line protector of our people and city and then into the protector of our data.
However according to Eng. Emannuel Durand, the damage to the north block silos was so severe that they are tilting dangerously.
The explosion mutated the north block silos into a skeletal machine which will safely archive our cultural identity by becoming Lebanon’s E- government Data Center where anyone can access, exchange, or display any type of data. It will immortalize our past, heal our present and guide our future. The south block silos will become a vertical cemetery memorial in remembrance to the victims of the blast.

Project description

The Silos will transfer data and visitors horizontally and vertically similar to how it transferred grain while presenting an image of ruins that retains its identity as a survivor of the blast.
Around the Silos, there will be an expo representing Lebanon with pedestrianized public outdoor areas. In place of the 4 destroyed warehouses, there will now be an immersive outdoor world allowing visitors to build their own virtual spaces in a collective re-imagining of the built environment.
Longitudinal Implants emphasizing the machine’s movement will extend from the most damaged mutated areas to recalibrate the structural system and create spaces through them. These spaces will morph parasites that will display translucent dynamic facades through movements and activities of the visitors and data inside the data center to the public as if they are pixelated silhouettes inside digital screens translated into architecture.
You enter The Data Center through data collectors which will scan and save every human. Different types of data from Lebanon is stored to make sure we don’t lose them again; Urban Data, Human Data, Cultural Data, Research Data, Healing Data (the E-government), and a participatory voting area to give everyone a decision in the county’s future. Some spaces are lived through VR and digital experiences.
In addition to the vertical cores, the circulation is all through ramps and hydraulic floors to allow accessibility to everyone.
After reaching The roof observatory of Beirut, a VR hydraulic floor will display the events of the explosion and land in the ground floor on the south block to witness the vertical cemetery with the light coming from the sky.

Technical information

In contrast to the existing structural concrete of the silos, the machine like implants will be of steel. They will be held through a truss system and suspended load bearing cables. Pile foundations under the sea are also required to stabilize the tilting.
Glass is used to display the constant circulation flow of visitors, which are the main data of the data center, similar to seeing digital data transferring from a server to another.
Polycarbonate facades is used on the parasitic spaces to project the activities and silhouettes of the people inside into the city.


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