Artist Nathalie Harb installs pink shed in Beirut’s urban context to encourage silence

Artist Nathalie Harb has collaborated with London-based architecture studio BUF to create The Silent Room, a bright pink shed inserted into a dense urban environment in Beirut to isolate visitors from the noise of the outside world.

All photography by Raintree

Taking place as part of the Beirut Design Week programmae, the space has been created for an individual to experience one at a time for a maximum of 30 minutes, where they are invited to “not perform or achieve anything, but just to be”.

The interior space is stripped bare of all unnecessary distractions, giving it a cocoon-like environment where the only sound is the “hum of the city at its quietest hours”, with Harb working alongside sound designer Khaled Yassine and 21db accoustic consultants.

The structure was built by Squad Design.

The room has been installed in a parking site adjacent to the highway bridge between Mar Mikhael  and Burj Hamood neighbourhoods. The site itself is a crossroads between residential areas and industrialised areas, where inhabitants are exposed to high levels of acoustic and visual pollution.

The bright colour of the shed-like structure was chosen deliberately by the artist. She explained that pink is a colour previously used to paint traditional Beiruti houses, inspired by Italian architecture. It is also a colour she finds soothing.

“We gave it a bit more saturation to stand out in the urban environment,” she explained. Pink isn’t necessarly associated with silence, usually those colors are more muted, but I wanted to create that visual displacement or element of surprise, to stand out in the city and make it noticeable like a bunker- but one that invites you to peace.”

Inside the colors are in shades of teal, aqua green, blue and powder pink, contrasting with its brighter exterior.

“The project is an urban intervention that responds to an emergency to give a sense of rest to our over-aggressive senses and restor a bit of silence in our urban environments. It is a quality that is becoming a rarity and a privilege to only a few,” Harb said.

Other installations at Beirut Design Week includes the work of two Lebanese architects who focus on security and travel measures. 

Additionally, Annabel Karim Kassar Architects is in the process of restoring a nineteenth-century Ottoman mansion to preserve Beirut’s architectural past.

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