Rawaya Building

Status: First Prize Competition Winner

The design for Rawaya Beirut won first prize in the 2021 Sustainable Design Competition for Beirut’s Greener Tomorrow, announced by Dar(E) together with the Ministry of Interior in Beirut, Lebanon.
Since the 2020 explosion that rocked Beirut’s port, Lebanon’s largest architectural firms, and various NGOs, including Dar Elhandasa / Dar(E), have taken the initiative to redevelop the port by bringing together local and international architects to revitalize the port of Beirut as well as its surrounding residential and commercial sectors. Since the proposed and specified site sits directly between Beirut industrial, residential and commercial districts, as well as other mixed-use properties, it was important that this new design act both as a barrier between these districts, Yet also as a porous element, or bridge, between them as the boundaries between these three sectors seem to be increasingly clashing. All in All, this beautiful modular proposal sits elegantly at Beiruts historical `Gateway into the City.`

The Universal Santuary
Imagine the many networks of organisms, from soil microbes to families of biotic inhabitants to flowering plants, living symbiotically in a constructive, ecologically designed and shared environment. Imagine that this environment is controlled within a constructed space and is the epicenter of an enormous pollination network centered around the dying city of Beirut, built primarily by honeybees housed in the “lungs” of this new design.The two lungs or “inner skies,” of Rawaya building, allow this concept of a sanctuary to unfold. They serve both as a pollination network in which the honeybee is a fundamental player in the symbiotic relationships of ecology and biodiversity. In addition, these “lungs” would attract indigenous birds due to the safe environment, of which a seed dispersal network within and outside the site allows the promotion of natural growth around Beirut’s “Gateway into the City”, let alone the dying negative space framed within the residential neighborhoods directly adjacent to the site of Rawaya Building. These universal sanctuaries (lungs) and associated networks provide a fundamental starting point from which these ecosystem actors can spread their positive impacts to the private and public green spaces of the new building itself, but also to the adjacent public/private green spaces and “dead spaces” in the adjacent neighborhoods, and ultimately beyond. Moreover, the importance of abiotic factors is fundamental and intimate not only in these sanctuaries, but also throughout the building itself. The facade of each apartment includes vertical gardens and a planting zone that actively cooperate with the movement of the sun and the circulation of water in the lungs. Everyone is entitled to their own clean air and private growing space. The soil represents the breeding ground, the air circulation (plants release oxygen and feed on carbon dioxide (gases)) and heat, and the water in the form of rain and general condensation and humidity all work in accordance with the direction of the main wind movement to which the two “lungs” are aligned and parallel to, in the southwest-to-northwest direction. In all abstract, the specific route of mobility for these pollinators mimicks that of a breathing Lung, where the bees start at the center, move their way up or down the Lung-funnels to the ground floor or roof floor gardens, make their way around to the vertical gardens on the facades, and finally, back up or down, returning back into the Lungs where their safe-haven-honey-combs await them to produce their delicious and indigenous honey for both them and the residents of Rawaya.

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