Urban Design and Landscape

Li Beirut

Pelin Asa, Erik Bauscher, Christelle El Feghali
Universität Stuttgart

Project idea

The main aim of this project is to bring a modern and sustainable addition to Beirut while preserving its historical identity and character. The new site plan respects the past of the area while protecting the natural environment to give the visitors an awareness of the local flora. New housing and business units that highlight social interactions attract people to this new neighborhood with its emphasis on car-less, eco- and pedestrian-friendly transportation options. The previous port functions are preserved and expanded in the eastern part of the area, while technology and workshop places for small-scale production next to it connect it to the rest of the commercial and residential areas on the west. Lastly, it provides a place of grief and silence for commemorating those lost in the explosion. Overall, it provides Beirut with a new neighborhood and port that establishes a city-coast connection.

Project description

To redesign an area the size and significance of Beirut Port requires substantial research. That is why we started our design process by reading the analyses of the port after the explosion. One of these reports by Hamburg Port Consulting lists that the main objective of the port redevelopment should be to unlock its economic potential with diverse uses and flexibility. Our design stemmed from these principles to take from the history of Beirut to make the port a connected part of the city with a human-focused urban design.

Another important point we took from this report is the port to “become the initial point for a public transportation system.” This new port city centers around the human on the street level: pedestrian-focused road design that encourages one to leave cars behind, fully-integrated bicycle paths, and a tram line to inspire the future of safe and efficient public transportation in Lebanon. Mid-rise buildings that take their inspiration from the climate-conscious designs of the old Lebanese cities such as Sidon provide connection points to bring people together with their narrow passageways and quiet courtyards.

The new port city also becomes a center of culture. With an amphitheater by the sea in its western corner, the city gains a new, top arts venue and open-air markets provide the local producers with new avenues. This cultural edge of the new port is connected to the other areas through an undisrupted path along the shore to give full access to citizens to this part of the sea that they could not reach before. Further along the coast, the forgotten natural elements of Lebanon are brought together to give the visitors a sensory experience of natural history. Native lemon, orange, and apple trees invite a walk through this new extensive city park.

On the other hand, the Port also becomes an important economic and innovation region. Taking support from its location next to the international trading center, a technological campus with workshops and schools attracts talents and business. The new diverse plan of the area separates it from the heavy-duty functions of the active port to create a living city with new and attractive housing and jobs.

Lastly, the explosion that changed not only the port but the city forever is commemorated with the solemnness it deserves. The memory of each of the 218 people killed is recorded in a space that preserves some of the traces of the silo that withstood the explosion as a “Memorial Forest”. Here, each visitor is encouraged to reflect and have an intimate interaction with the site.

With the tragic memory of the space always in mind, the new Port City unlocks the never-before-used potential of this important section of Beirut and provides the city and its denizens with a new, elevated urban experience.

Technical information

The mid-rise buildings in the residential and commercial section are inspired by traditional Lebanese architecture, therefore are to be built of materials reminding of natural stones.

A modular market structure on the Western island consists of individual, umbrella-shaped columns joined together in a rectangular grid to create a roof. These umbrellas remind of traditional Lebanese architecture in form and material, yet represent the most modern building techniques by being 3D-printed. The size of the column is determined by the reach of a modern 3 DOF robotic printer. The market can be built in sequences depending on the demand for space.

The old silo building needs to be deconstructed as per the latest reports, thus there is a possibility for the city to create a space for both locals and visitors as a reminder of past events. Our proposal is a reconstruction of only a few silo columns to work as a physical reminder of the building as well as being a “memorial forest”. The landscape of the rest of the island is slightly raised.


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