"Stone Garden" Housing - Beirut
Beirut’s contemporary cityscape is the product of the country’s geopolitical situation and tormented political tensions. Violence has left its mark on the city’s buildings’ skins, hollowing them. We have let nature invade a concrete skeleton to change one’s conception of what a façade opening might mean to this context, blurring the boundary between the articulated window and the memory of a violent event. This new architecture will stand juxtaposed with the few remaining traditional tiled-roof houses and the identical concrete masses of today’s construction. It will become part of the strange euphoric melancholia of this almost natural landscape.
“Stone Garden” materialises this history of Beirut, a built form of life and death, presence and absence, evanescence and timelessness, beauty and rawness… Located near the industrial port of Beirut, the project takes the site where the first concrete company in the Middle East was established, and where the son of the notable Lebanese architect, photographer of renown in his own right, Fouad El Khoury, is redeveloping the site of his father’s office, demolishing the existing building. The proposal’s dialogue of absence and presence is conceived sculpturally, to create a new form from the brief and site constraints: rising up with its earth-covered concrete, the project addresses how to open its façade to Beirut, these openings, not merely viewing frames, of various heights and sizes, but mass-subtractions that become enjoyable planted `balconies’, imbued with the energy of their philosophy. The asymmetry of the openings animate the façade, and make the dwellings on each of the floors totally unique, your own space.