News / Planning


Beirut Wonder Forest Prototype #1


After the great buzz that still has the Lebanese community talking about it, Archileb is following up on the much anticipated first intervention of Studio Invisible and REACT’s Beirut Wonder Forest. Prototype #1 is a 70 year old residential structure in Rue 6 of Sector 46 in Badaro, Beirut. As Wassim Melki puts it: “[It’s] Nothing fancy, just a couple of trees in a large fixed pot on each rooftop". When the intervention was completed, the newly founded Ngo and Studio Invisible shared with us the project’s information.

“Alongside adding some green cover to the area of Badaro, the aim of this prototype was to create a platform of experimentation allowing us to be aware of the challenges to be faced in accomplishing similar interventions, as well as creating an example that would answer all frequently asked questions. And here it is important to Note that we have founded an NGO (REACT), to push for the Implementation and the follow-up of “Beirut Wonder Forest”.
Following the publication of Beirut Wonder Forest, one of the major concerns (and criticism) we were faced with was the issue of Structure, and if buildings in Beirut would be able to sustain the extra weight generated by the trees and their soil. Accordingly, it was primordial to have a relatively “Old” edifice for our prototype. It was also important to have it in a Low to Middle level residential area where the public involvement and attention would be higher. We have therefore chosen the Nawfal Building, a 70 years old structure, slightly affected by shrapnel, but built using reinforced concrete, and we were lucky enough to have the blessing of its owner. A simple structural survey was enough to conclude that our intervention would not cause any risk, and to be even more on the safe side, we have decided to place the Larger trees (weighing more than 200kg), centered on top of the building’s pillars. Moreover, to avoid any moisture on the concrete, all pots were elevated on a plate.
The other important challenge was the trees and shrubs themselves, and here the selection criteria was based on the fact that the species should survive the Pot condition, should be common to the Beirut Climate, as well as the roof natural Condition, such as strong winds, shade from surrounding buildings, etc... On the Other hand, it was important also to choose species that have relatively Low maintenance, i.e. requiring minimal pruning, not susceptible to diseases and pests, and relatively drought-tolerant.
All the trees/shrubs selected are Broadleaf and mostly evergreen, to maintain the green scenery and be able to contribute to some extent to the air regeneration throughout the whole year. Here is the List of all the Trees/Shrubs that we used:
-5 x Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)
-1 x Fortunella margarita (Kamquat)
-1 x Viburnum tinus
-1 x Ficus lyrata
-Eugenia sp.
-Euonymus sp.
-Pittosporum tobira (nana)
-Hibiscus sinensis
-Carissa grandiflora
-Punica granatum nana
-Clerodendron trichotomum
-Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine)
- Vitis vinifera (grape vine)
-Bougainvellea glabra
-Jaminum sp.A small leftover space has also been used
On the other hand, 2 trees were planted in a small leftover space on the ground floor:
-1 x Citrus x limoni (lemon tree)
-1 x Olea europaea (Olive)
And last but not least, we are complimenting the prototype with a basic rainwater collection system. However we are expecting the irrigation and the longterm maintenance of the prototype -and the project as a whole- to be manual and on an individual basis, as first it would lower the costs drastically, and second, it will involve the residents in the process. However farfetched that may sound, we believe (and Hope), that we as Lebanese should be capable of accomplishing something more significant than the biggest Hummus plate.”
All trees were provided by: Albizia
Agricultural Consultant: Dima Rachid
Photos courtesy of: Carel Adem, Rana Rmeily, Pierre Attallah

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  1. Sir Mark Sykes

    Dear Nour, the point we were trying to prove in our prototype is that it could be executed on relatively old buildings (hence mostly all buildings), affordable and easily done by residents who have no "design" notion whatsoever. We believe that the importance is in the trees themselves and in their expected maintenance and growth. Of course if the project is to expand, A more unified approach (in the design of the planters for example) will be considered.

  2. Sir Mark Sykes

    As for the Cost of our intervention, knowing that we have added as much as 8 trees and more than 20 shrubs, with their new pots and the extra soil and fertilizer,Transportation and the hired workers, as well as the initial cleaning up of the roof, the total was slightly over 800$. We are expecting to have it for relatively less if the project is officially launched and the quantities we are ordering are higher.

  3. Karim

    Nice, any chance telling us how much the whole thing cost?

  4. Nour El Khazen

    nice,.. but they shld ve worked more on the design, just by adding minor details to give a more united look especially if the aim was to prove a point like it is stated in the article. it would ve helped their case and concept to make an impression.