© Ieva Saudargaite
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As an existential financial crisis threatens Lebanon, the opening of the LSB regional headquarters, located in the city of Tyre on the southern coast of Lebanon, examines the untapped potential in challenging established code.
Tyre witnessed uncontrolled urban development during the Lebanese civil war that spanned from 1975 to 1991. Post-war, newly adopted building codes favored an increase in the densification of existing neighborhoods and a disregard for public space that enabled the continued sprawl.
“Presented with a cornerstone lot in a vacant newly repurposed agricultural zone, we encountered both a challenge and a responsibility,” explains Karim Fakhry, principal at Domaine Public Architects.
“How do we mediate between the client’s emphasis on maximum visibility and exposure while emphasizing spatial values that could serve as a precedent for upcoming development?” asks Jean Nmeir, co-founder at DPA.
The headquarters establishes a balance between maximum visual presence and minimal physical presence. Limited to just three floors, it is more visually prominent than its actual scale. The structure, with its post-tensioned roof and nine-meter cantilever, allows for a minimum building footprint. It thus liberates the ground floor from all structural elements, enabling a shaded public plaza as an open flexible space that can host various curatorial programs.
A sense of community would be further activated when future buildings emerge on adjacent sites.
The financial crisis and severe capital controls enacted by the banking sector resulted in increased hostility between the financial sector and the people. The design strategy with its emphasis on public space is ever more relevant today as it re-establishes a dialogue with citizens and promotes social participation. A sequence of inclusive spaces promotes interaction as visitors transition from the open public plaza into a more private courtyard.