Beirut, the People

Beirut, the People is a project that consists of the appropriation of a discontinued transportation infrastructure project - Petro Trad highway (PT) - into a public amenity. Had the highway been built, several heritage buildings and cemeteries would have been destructed along the way.
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Designer(s) : Nour Tabet

University : Lebanese American University

Tutor(s) : Elie Harfouche

This project consists of the appropriation of a discontinued transportation infrastructure project – Petro Trad highway (PT) – into a public amenity. The program was developed based on the following:

  • Connections: Pathways, roads, and links that connect the spaces
  • Give and Take Spaces: Spaces where social and cultural experiences take place
  • Active Spaces: Spaces where physical or mental activities take place
  • Rest Spaces: Spaces where individuals or groups can rest and remain inactive
  • Informal Spaces: Spaces with functions dictated by users
  • Services: Services and Facilities

The focus area of the project is the 1km strip consisting of the unbuilt parts of the highway. This strip is divided into 6 zones based on the intersection of perpendicular roads with the PT footprint. Each zone limit is dictated by the lands expropriated by the government for the highway. Since each zone is unique in terms of character, users’ concentration, and functional needs, each is treated as an individual park linked to the rest with the PT footprint serving as the linear connection.

The interventions not only focus on the ground floor or street level of the zones but also follow a dynamic path along the section of the area: starting at the street level, rising above, and falling below before finally reaching a viewing deck.

Zone I | The Passage

This zone marks the intersection of the PT footprint with the General Fouad Chehab Highway. It consists of two occupied heritage structures surrounded by residential buildings. The passage through this zone is blocked by fencing walls.

Zone II | The Street Garden

This zone consists of a one-way vehicular road sandwiched by heritage walls. Behind the western wall is the Saint Joseph Cathedral (the 1870s) and a parking lot facing an old, abandoned printing press. As for the Eastern side, the Tabet Palace, a kindergarten, and abandoned structures (A&B) embedded within the wall are all heritage structures built before 1920.

Zone III | The Campus Hangout

The Petro Trad footprint in this zone passes through a fenced outdoor space belonging to the Saint Joseph University (USJ) campus. Surrounding the zone are heritage houses, the Annunciation Church dating back to 1927, Elie Mouawad Park, and a residential building.

Zone IV| The House of Culture

This zone consists of four heritage houses, two of which are abandoned, and an empty plot currently used as a parking lot. The zone is surrounded by additional heritage houses and residential buildings. The passage within the zone is obstructed by fencing walls.

Zone V| Petro Trade Revisited

This zone consists of the built portion of the Petro Trad highway. It is a one-way street made up of three lanes surrounded by parking spaces for adjacent shops.

Zone VI| The Bridge

This zone is made up of another built portion of the Petro Trad which discontinues at the borders of the Jewish cemetery. The middle road is used by cars to circulate the parking spots surrounding Sodeco Square and its shops.