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Al Mawarid Bank Headquarters

Beirut Central District, Lebanon
Aborted 2003

Al Mawarid Bank headquarters building site is strategically located between the Serail ridge and the northern edge of the Wadi Abou Jmil area in the Beirut Central District development. The frontal façade of the building is situated on the Bab Idriss Avenue (north) which presently acts as an edge between the hotels quarters and the residential developments (south). Our implementation strategy is driven by a determination to permeate the present urban edge condition which is being re-enforced by the present and future developments on the avenue. Our proposal should translate our reading of the transitory nature of the site by linking the two adjacent conditions. The permeability of the scheme should render an urban exception that reflects the public nature of the institutional program against the domestic character of Al Mawarid. The building envelope is shaped around a continuous alignment on the eastern portion of the site and its mirroring around a central axis that splits the site in half in the north-south direction. The proposed mass is shaped by the highest possible ground occupation of the site with a perfectly symmetrical scheme. This implementation strategy leaves a generous gap at the north western edge of the site. The proposed gap is further enhanced by its combination with the existing street on the western perimeter of the plot. The grouping of both voids creates the largest possible visual corridor (in plan) between the two adjacent urban zones according to the build rule imposed by the town planning regulations on this plot. The institutional aspect of the Bank is further enhanced by the classical symmetry of its formal composition and the additional breathing space provided by the proposed void on the western edge of the site. The massing of the building is no longer strictly determined by the geometrical implications of the perimeter of the site. A design is developed according to the logic and character of the Bank. The exterior façade of the main body of the building is constituted of a layout of vertical stone panels and voids that span from slab to slab. The voids / interstices should not exceed 30% of the façade area as required by the B.C.D regulations on this particular sector. The vertical stone panels are placed 50cm away from the interior façade which is made of glass panels that span from floor to ceiling. Each office module can rotate one of its corresponding external vertical elements to allow a larger vertical interstice and greater exterior visibility. The frontal façade of the Bank features a solid body that extends from the ground up to the crown of the building. The entrance of the building is articulated around a central feature element that incorporates a six meters wide mobile garden loggia that moves vertically on the façade. The mobile loggia links all levels of the building to the ground floor and the roof terrace level. An internal open courtyard / garden is located inside the building allowing for greater light and air penetration into the building.