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Beirut Fitness Center

Beirut, Lebanon
Mixed Use Development
Aborted 2011

The Beirut Fitness Center is located on Lots #146-01 and 02 in the New Waterfront District - reclaimed land in the BCD. The project is developed by Solidere (the Lebanese Company for the development and reconstruction of the Beirut Central District) on a designated stretch within the New Waterfront District, as part of a temporary master plan that aims at establishing activities which will generate new public destinations. The 125-by-80-meter site is of a 9,700-square-meter surface area. The developer proposes an exclusive sports facility and leisure activities that connect to the planned central pedestrian spine, Rue Patriarche Hayek.

The program proposed by the client covers 8,700 square meters serving up to 2,000 members. As the planned temporary project barely covers a fraction of the allowable built-up area of our site, the scheme celebrates the abundance of available land at that very particular moment in time, which will no longer be possible when the zone reaches its real estate maturity.

A landscaped park is proposed at a new reference level, 6 meters lower than the street level. Unlike conventional urban sports facilities and gyms, which are typically closed and contained within buildings, our facility relies on its connection and exposure to outdoor spaces. The project develops around a 1,260-square-meter outdoor courtyard and two outdoor tennis courts of 1,222 square meters located at the new reference level. Indoor activity spaces including fitness and aquatic zones, squash courts, reading rooms, and multipurpose spaces lie along the periphery of the outdoor courtyard and tennis courts, separated only by glazed full-height operable panels. The boundary of indoor/outdoor is lost as visual and sensual permeability and transparency are enhanced through users’dynamic movement in and out of the building. At this level, services including showers, lockers, treatment rooms and technical areas are inserted in a long narrow band along the north-south axis on the western side of the plot.  

The street level ground floor is highlighted by 5,690 square meters of red epoxy-finished concrete extending on the totality of the surface defining the open and permeable boundaries of the project, specifically in connection to the pedestrian spine on the eastern edge. There is no built mass at ground level, only transparent 2.2-meter-high planes that frame the courtyard and tennis courts below, allowing the public to overlook sports and related activities. The automobiles’ elliptical track and parking spots around the courts and the open voids frame the project’s activities, while connecting it to the city’s vehicular grid.