Following his visit to Lebanon and lecture at AUB on May 9, 2011, Josep Lluís Mateo has sent us the following press release regarding his Beirut project which is currently on hold:
Project for Serviced Apartments in Beirut City Centre
Block 09-06 Sector B Lot 1408 Mina Hosn, Competition 2010
‘Barcelona (my city) and Beirut share the Mediterranean as a cultural, geographical and physical microclimate: the sea as an inner space of connection and meeting that links our experiences.
In the built-up city, we have to devise an urban part which speaks of a past that looks to the future.
Our project aims to be at once appropriate, integrated into the urban fabric and specific, and also to shine on its own.
Our project has to be seen as a sequence from the earth to the sky. Near the ground, in the city, the building opens up and protects the street at its point of contact with the public.
The building stratifies as it rises, in terms of space and function. A series of inner courtyards of differing environmental characteristics mark this progression and accommodate the various types of apartment, giving them an incomparable setting. The apartments are modern and flexible. Areas of privacy connected with a special world of their own.
At the top, on its highest levels, the volume becomes broken up and blends with the sky. Open gardens and highly singular dwellings, vistas of the city and the sea.
The façade is a filter that nuances and controls the light and the views, in the Mediterranean tradition of domestic jalousies: seeing without being seen. It controls privacy and allows the occupants to enjoy nature.
The material envisaged is the warm local sandstone seen on our visit to the place: a bright stone given a modern twist, like a sheet with varying degrees of permeability and opacity (solid or perforated with varying densities). The building is also envisaged as a light stone, partly floating over ground level and dissolving into the sky. Reacting to the strong light of Beirut, filtering it without producing chiaroscuros.’ Josep LLuís Mateo
The plot has four very different sides:
- To the east it is bordered by the visual and spatial axis that ends with the Grand Serail, and
- To the west, by the sequence of the low building and gardens (Zetoneh Square).
- In the south is the main public entrance to the building and its collective image. Our project has to construct Dr. Fawzi Daouk Street and provide generous protection of the entrance by adding activities (retail shops, restaurant, cafeteria, etc.) to bring life to this inner street.
- To the north, we have to colonize, creating not just a service entrance but also a domestic space that is a qualified counterpoint, not just the “back” of something more important.
To the south, on Dr. Fawzi Daouk Street, the building projects generously, protecting the street from the sun and the rain. It forms an open plaza, a place for interaction, in front of the entrance. A nonlinear, staggered profile indicates the doorway. Shops, restaurants and a cafeteria, etc., will bring life to the plaza.
To the north, the building withdraws, like its neighbours. The service accesses are located there, but a delicate garden with a small stream and aromatic plants represents a small domestic oasis that could be a playground for the children at the kindergarten.
The side facades (east/west) are very important; they mark the vanishing lines towards the inner city. They should (can) be formalized in a very special way.