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					Architectural Intervention in Historical Cities
Beirut Central Disctrict

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Participants;

(Introduce myself)

I am very glad to be here, to share together the problems we get in our countries, relative to their proper context,
especially in Architecture Intervention and development in Historical Cities.
We will ensure the right way to find solutions, Architectural solutions, to our common problems.
The Urban plan for Beirut central district consist of:
    1. Execution of INFRASTRUCTURE.
    2. Restoration of existing historical and typological area (Hotels, Banks and Governmental areas).
    3. Development of Marina in front of Hotels area.
    4. New proposed Residential area.
    5. The souks of down town raised by the war.

In this presentation I would like to highlight one of the Key dimensions of the Reconstruction of Beirut Historical
Center, which is that of urban planning, urban design and architecture, and the ways in which one of the world‟s largest
inner city regeneration projects has contributed to Beirut‟s revitalization, making it an attractive destination point to 3
million visitors a year.
The main perspective was to Reposition Beirut in a Competing Cities Framework. It has done this by trying to:

        -Promote opportunity sectors in the economy;
        -Mobilize benefits of lifestyle and cultural assets, climate and human resources;
        -Create a high quality, 24-hour active mixed-use City Center;
        -Supported by strong inward investment, and
        -To promote landmark architecture by world class designers which further contributes to Solidere‟s strategy to
        reposition the city.


The reconstruction of BEIRUT Central District (BCD) and its development into the finest city center in the Middle
East, is one of the ambitious urban regeneration venture of our time. Based on a Master Plan which draws on the site‟s
natural assets and rich heritage, the aims at creating a modern district spreading over 184 hectares of land, one-third
reclaimed from the sea, and offering facilities totaling 4.69 sq m of floor space.
The BCD enjoys a privileged location at the heart of Lebanon‟s capital. As it slopes down towards the sea, it commands
fine views of the Mediterranean, with a picturesque landscape of hills and mountains across the bay.
The BCD is easily accessible from all parts of the city, including the adjacent port and the airport. Major roads converge
on it, or form its boundaries to the east, south and west, or line its 1.5 km seafront to the north.


The war ravages provides both the need and the opportunity for comprehensive urban planning. A carefully drawn,
detailed, phased and coordinated plan of action for the BCD, comprising the traditional city center plus its modern
extension on the waterfront, the Master Plan involves the installation of a completely modern infrastructure and
provides an urban design framework for new construction and for the
preservation of preserved buildings.

The Master Plan sets the standards for an Urban Planning Framework for building a New Kind of City Center that
consists of:
        -Mixed-use strategy to engender 24-hour active downtown;
        -A city of active streets and vibrant public places, not object buildings;
        -A Public domain that makes up 50% land area including 60 parks, squares and pedestrian areas;
        -Protected view corridors to sea and mountains, and
        -Encourages unique regional identity in a homogenizing globalized world.

30/03/2010                                                                 Michel Barmaki - Beirut

Architectural Intervention in Historical Cities
Beirut Central Disctrict

In an era where cities are standing out based on their “landmark” architecture, the company in charge of the BCC, is
intent on laying the grounds for High Quality Architecture with Four ‘Landmark’ typologies in the Beirut City

        A. Key site highrise which are notable and gateway towers giving orientation,
            legibility with protected views to sea and mountains;
        B. Key site lowrise which are in prime locations and have an architectural
        C. Cultural icons and civic art that provide focus and identity
        C. Landmark districts as place-making city quarters

The Master Plan maximizes views of the sea and surrounding landscapes including bays, hills and mountains, dwells on
the formation of PUBLIC SPACES and creates belvederes, promenades and trails. Recognizing the city‟s heritage and
townscape features, reestablishes its fabric and neighborhood structures. Combining tradition and innovation, control
and creativity, it ensures the harmonious integration of traditional and modern Architecture. It accommodates a broad
mix of land uses including business, government, residential, as well as cultural and recreational facilities.

The Design recognizes and values Public Spaces as a Source of Tourist Attraction and a space that allows
Lebanese and visitors to Reclaim the City’s Meeting Point:

        -Extensive green spaces and promenade areas are creating a major attraction and social arena for the city as a
        -Provides relief for a dense city: half its green spaces will be in the downtown
        -Commitment to quality and unique integration of public domain design with state of the art street furniture
        -A city of diverse, active public spaces suited to Mediterranean climate and lifestyles
        -3 million (2003) visitors a year from across Beirut, Lebanon and overseas
        -Providing means for the city to reconnect on common ground

The project covers approximately 184.5 ha (455 acres): 120 ha (296 acres) originally constituting the traditional BCD,
plus a 64.5 ha (159 acres) extension being reclaimed from the sea. Around 91 ha (225 acres)
will consist of public spaces, 59 ha (146 acres) in roads and 32 ha (79 acres) in public open space.


Beirut city center is equipped with a 3.6 km ring road, 8.4 km of primary roads and 16.6 km of secondary, tertiary and
pedestrian roads. Major part of infrastructure is done such as, water supply (drinking water and water for landscaping
and irrigation, civil works, including culverts, lighting was installed, with low-voltage cabling, tunnels were equipped
with lighting, stand-by generators, control and safety systems. Civil works were also implemented for power and
secondary voltage network, cable TV and telephone services. Sidewalk paving and street furniture, provide high-quality
public space. Underground and surface parking were created to fulfill the needs of the BCD, additional underground
cars parks remain unexecuted.


1 – Existing City Center

More than 60 gardens, squares and promenade areas are part of the BCC „green master plan‟. Close to 3.500 trees
already adorn the city center, the streets are lined with more than fifteen species of trees, or fitted with planters or wide
medians landscaped with trees, shrubs and colorful plants. The tree nursery produces 25.000 flowering plants per month
and is used to tend tress spared by the war, until they are transplanted into a new setting. Starting with Nejmeh square,
the company (SOLIDERE) in charge of the BCC landscape areas adjoining public buildings.
An open space over the Weygand street underground car park, the fountain in the cascading open space under the Grand
Serail, a sloping 2.000 sq m public open space was created near the Serail entrance, other well-maintained and vibrant
open spaces include: Gibran Khalil Gibran garden facing the UN House, Zokak El Blatt garden overlooking the city,
Roman Baths garden and pedestrian area, Riad El Solh square etc… and Planet Discovery garden in Mina El Hosn.
Internal squares and landscaped spaces are helping creating a pleasant environment in Saifi village. Other ongoing
works include a square in Foch area and the upgrading of the CDR stairs, both designed by Vladimir Jurovic, envisaged

30/03/2010                                                   2              Michel Barmaki - Beirut
Architectural Intervention in Historical Cities
Beirut Central Disctrict

projects are planting a media along Trieste street and developing the designs of the one-kilometer old seashore walk
open spaces.

2 - New Waterfront District

The New Waterfront District is evolving. The site commands fine views of the Mediterranean, with a picturesque
landscape of hills and mountains across the bay. The sector plan and the Beirut Marina design, both involving
international architects and planners, are proceeding towards finalization. Major part of this landfill area has to be
treated to ensure backfilling with clean materials for infrastructure, parks and high-density structures. The eastern part
of the land, not requiring treatment, was leveled and equipped with 7.500 sq m of temporary roads and a 25.000 sq m
surface parking area. Leased to Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center (BIEL), it is hosting activities in
temporary structures totaling 17.500 sq m of floor space, which include a 10.000 sq m exhibition hall, 2.000 sq m of
conference areas, and a 3.000 sq m Royal Pavillon with supporting facilities, serviced by 1.200 car park.
The Beirut Marina construction was part of completed works, also comprising a breakwater and a two-line defense
structure protecting the Marina and Waterfront. The Beirut Marina started receiving boats as of july 1 st 2002. The
architect‟s concept involves the design of a town quay of waterside restaurants on the southeastern curved edge, a yacht
club, summer apartments, leisure and marina-related shopping facilities on the eastern edge of the Marina, and a harbor
master, customs and immigration building. A belvedere overlooking the Marina from the Corniche, a footbridge,
underpasses, stairs and ramps are to provide pedestrian links between the Marina and its surroundings.


One of the distinguishing urban design aspects of the Beirut city center is Celebrating the Multi-layered City through
the integration of Urban Archaeology and Restoration:

        -Beirut‟s heritage reveals layers of twelve civilizations with the restoration
         of architectural heritage that ranges from medieval times to the 1950s.
        -BCD contains the entire extent of the city from ancient times to 1830s, when
         Beirut extended beyond.
        -1990s: largest urban archeological excavation site in the world.
        -Archaeological Heritage Trail and Site Museums link archaeology and restoration.
        -1/3 of undestroyed urban fabric salvaged.
        -Local restoration craftsmanship and regional artisan skills utilized.
        -Historic core restoration: major urban regeneration achievement on a global scale

Archeological excavations and research yielded evidence on civilizations with span over 5.000 years and contribute to
defining Beirut‟s identity. The master plan flexed to preserve important archeological sites identified under UNESCO
protocol to be reintegrated in unique ways into the townscape. An agreement was signed in January 2002 with the
American-British landscape architecture firm Gustavson Porter, winner of the international landscaping competition, for
the detailed design Hadiqat as-Samah (Garden of Forgiveness) A conservation plan for the archeological remains
includes long-term burial of some, with the on-site conservation and integration of representative features from different
periods: Roman Cardo Maximus, earlier Hellenistic remains, Decumanus with houses and workshops, evidence of the
conjunction of Hellenic and Roman urban grids, Byzantine baths, wall associated with the 17 th century Fakhreddine
palace, and later Ottoman foundation arches and walls. Implementation started in 2003 with the construction of the west
terrace wall and pedestrian street overlooking the Cardo, and the commencement of the archeological conservation


Modern Architecture that is harmonious with its surroundings characterizes UN House, the embassy compound and the
recently delivered multiuse complex near the Serail hill, offering office and residential facilities together with a health
club. Following the success scored by Saifi Village, new residential developments are underway in Saifi and Wadi
Abou Jamil. The souks of Beirut are an important magnet still going trough the final stages of the building permit and
tendering processes.

30/03/2010                                                  3              Michel Barmaki - Beirut
Architectural Intervention in Historical Cities
Beirut Central Disctrict

1 – Saifi Village
A traditional neighborhood with a preserve urban fabric has emerged at the southeastern periphery of the city center. A
success story, Saifi village offers 34.000 sq m of floor space in 16 low-rise new buildings forming four clusters over
7.400 sq m of land along six streets. Designed according to Lebanese tradition, the new buildings blend with existing
buildings restored to their original glory. The residential ambience is enhanced by a quiet environment and a carefully
designed and landscaped public realm. Brick paving, fountains, seasonal shrubs and flowers, wooden benches and
children‟s playgrounds convey an appealing and communal character.

Replacing the traditional markets, the Souks of Beirut are a modern shopping district offering some 100.000 sq m of
floor area which are destined to bring to critical mass the supply of retail space in the center. While being innovative in
meeting contemporary shopping and entertainment needs, the project draws on the site heritage. Several unearthed
archeological finds are integrated within the project design.

Winner of a competition among new generation Lebanese Architects, the designer presented a conceptual design for a
5.000 sq m floor area development, comprising three apartment blocks with a garden. The project continues the
vernacular architectural expression of the adjacent scheme, for a boutique hotel grouping a new infill with restored and
reconstructed buildings.


Restoration has set the tone for the entire Beirut city center development. Both the Conservation Area and the traditional
neighborhoods have been restored to their former beauty. Enhanced by modern interiors and facilities, the historic core
is a vibrant “vieille ville” housing important institutions, while its pedestrians streets, squares and café make it a popula r
destination. The friendly residential environment created in saifi is being emulated in Wadi Abou Jamil. In Beirut city
center, heart of the country and of its capital, street facades and arcades, squares, cafes and other meeting places,
traditional market and residential clusters, are part of the city memory. The final product of restoration is quality space
with a special character. Its success has confirmed that heritage buildings can survive and even create substantial value,
provided they are adapted to the needs of contemporary life and business.


In addition of we introduced here above, the hotels emplacements, the marina, the restaurants, the gardens, the
pedestrians and leisure places which are all integrated as one part in the Beirut City Center, give to this area a unique
and special aspect involving special architecture and important central point for tourism attraction in Beirut capital.

Star International Architects participate in Designing projects in BCD
Jean Nouvel, Michael Graves, Kevin Dash, Architecture Studio Paris, Axel Schultes, Arata Isozaki, Steven Holl, Rafael
Moneo, Zaha Hadid, and many local Architects give them Contribution to fulfill the Architecture requirements of the
New look of Beirut City Center.
Thank you for your attention .

30/03/2010                                                    4              Michel Barmaki - Beirut

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