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Plot # 749

Beirut, Lebanon
Residential
In Progress 2012

Located in the Beirut Central District, Plot # 749’s program includes an urban villa with direct access from street level that extends on the three upper floors with a total surface of 835 square meters as well as retail space on the remaining 115 square meters at the ground floor.
 
After the damage caused by the 1975-1990 conflict, the Saifi quarter was subject to a general master plan that was carried out by Solidere (the private company in charge of the reconstruction of the city center). Presently, new constructions as well as all renovated buildings comply with design guidelines that were defined by French architect Francois Spoerry. The guidelines include “traditional” pastel color façade finishes and a literal reinterpretation of ottoman and colonial architectural detailing that prevailed in the second half of the nineteenth century and throughout the early period of the twentieth century.
 
The ruin that presently stands on plot # 749 no longer has a roof, many of its peripheral walls have been greatly damaged by the shelling and lack of maintenance, and it has been reinforced by an exposed temporary steel bracing system in order to prevent further structural damage to its decaying traditional stone structure.
 
In accordance to the new master plan for the Saifi quarter, a new building permit, which allows for the construction of an additional floor has already been approved by the concerned authorities. The permit, which was filed prior to our design intervention, complies with the architectural guidelines that are imposed by the master plan for this sector.
 
Our proposed intervention does not exceed the allowable built-up area on the site and complies with the imposed setbacks, footprint and height for this particular site.
 
We started this design mission by a careful inventory and a scrupulous account of the existing condition of the ruin. This process was followed by several rounds of structural design exercises through which we explored, in conjunction with our structural consultant, the most effective methods of structural rehabilitation that would most effectively integrate the proposed program.
 
Our proposed architectural scheme consists of integrating an additional system of structural slabs, load-bearing elements and new facades that shall not overlap with the existing elements. All visible added matter (facades and roofs) shall not attempt to replicate the existing ruin. All existing matter (stone walls and vaults) shall be kept in their present condition and shall not be re-plastered.
 
The combination of the new elements with the recovered historical elements of the ruin express our interpretation of a meticulous recuperation of the structure, its relationship with its contemporary additional elements and its mutation in the present.