The neighborhood is a dense, chaotic & visually crowded lowincome urban area. The units in this residential building are to be affordable. Typically buildings offered are eight floors of small apartments with minimal amenities. Little is provided for, so tenants make alterations to meet their needs. Thus, in spite of looking decent once completed, the buildings suffer terribly upon acquisition: Tenants cut holes into
walls to install AC units or provide exits for kitchen exhausts. They glaze the balconies to gain additional space. They run wires in front of windows & balconies to hang laundry. Names & flat numbers are spray painted unto walls or floors to mark parking spots. Intermittent electricity supply requires generators that are
rarely provided for or operational & the inhabitants suffer to climb multiple flights of stairs when they forget urgently needed possessions in their apartments. Small shrubs or culinary herbs are planted in emptied metal milk cans & lined up on window sills. The buildings are poorly maintained & the blame game is
played without end to escape payment for repairs due to leakages & other damages.
Turning a blind eye to these issues would produce yet another building that would be gradually altered in an uncontrolled, careless manner. Thus, these issues are addressed, given a positive spin & turned into assets:
Windows provide ample daylight and are shifted around. The result reflects the urban surroundings, better integrating the project. The green AC condensers are hosted by custom metal cages, labeled according to floor served ensuring uniformity of look & control of visual impact & color. Drainage pipes are exposed on the exterior of the building allowing for easy identification of leaks & their source. Pipes connect the mechanical units in a branching pattern adding to the graphic nature of the project. Parking spots are labeled like the AC units to help avoid petty arguments. Recycled oil barrels are to hold small local flora & distributed on
the facades to provide a splash of green. Laundry wires are connected to pulleys along kitchen windows to
control look & distribution. Labor and materials are local. Finally, apartments are equipped with retractable arms coupled with fishing reels to carry woven bamboo baskets, allowing a user to lower an item to a forgetful resident during one of the frequent power outages or collect deliveries from the local corner shop as sometimes still is the custom in old Beirut neighborhoods.
Bernard Mallat, Tamer-Georges Musharbesh, Edgar Meksass, Hammoud Badran