Located along the bullet-scarred Green Line in Beirut, new high-rise designs by Lebanese studio Paralax point the way to a future for those who want to put Lebanon’s years of conflict and turmoil behind them.
Three towers, T3, T4 and T5 form a major part of Beirut Digital District (BDD), the new masterplanned hub for digital and creative industries in the country, acting as an all-inclusive community hosting innovative start-ups and commercial parks to accommodate medium and large enterprises.
Enclosed between T4 and T5 is a preserved historic church – renovated from its wartime blast damage and now a symbol of a resurgent city.
T3 – highly commended in the Concept Design of the Year Category at the Middle East Architect Awards – will be the first residential high rise building in BDD and will host cafes and restaurants on the ground level, with residential apartments located throughout the upper floors, all targeted towards the creatives and entrepreneurs who are moving into the area becoming known as “Lebanon’s Silicon Valley”.
Each residential unit is conceived with the idea of open space, and features high ceilings and a “mini piazza,” which can either have a hanging garden or a plunge pool, thereby extending the green space.
To be completed later, T4 and T5 will also feature transparent exteriors but will house offices, conference facilities and meeting rooms.
The towers are part of a larger development scheme in the burgeoning BDD that will include 12 buildings and over 150,000m3 of office spaces, apartments, hotels, shops and entertainment facilities.
Architect Karim Moussawer said: “Located on the Green Line that separated Beirut during the war years, the T3 residential tower reflects the masterplan vision of being a space for convergence rather than of segregation.
“And as such, it was conceived as being constructed of ‘slab and glass’, as its transparent facade blurs the line that split the city throughout the years.
The overall plan connects to the rest of the city through piazzas and landscaped areas, incorporating old structures at the site – one of which is the place of worship set between the two office structures.
Moussawer said: “The church is located between the two lots we’re currently working on for T4 and T5 as part of phase B of BDD Masterplan, which will add new office buildings to the existing community. We’re connecting those towers underneath the church using complex shoring systems and we’ve just been commissioned to take on its redesign and renovation.”
The architect said his work is aimed at the young people of Lebanon – those whose ideas are not formulated along ethnic or religious lines. Instead they emphasises human connectivity.
He said: “We are designing for a new generation, the post war generation. A lot of the people working in BDD were born after 1990 [when the civil war ended].
“We want to emphasise and revive the idea of coexistence which our society can embrace, especially the youth. We want to show that religion is not a cause for war but can bring about peace, while diversity is a method of social enrichment rather than a divider.
BDD is an expansion of the post-war Beirut Downtown, and politically Moussawer said it makes a “big statement of intent” on behalf of the private sector showcasing its capabilities as an active booster of the local economy.
“In addition, it’s creating opportunities for the younger generation to live and work in a healthy environment rather than emigrate, thus tackling one of the most important socio-economic problems of the country,” he said.