The default solution adopted by various real estate developers in Beirut working on mixed use projects is a programmatic separation between a commercial podium and a recessed office tower. All public programs are thus confined to the base, and all offices are isolated from any public activity on the street level. The tower is not only separated by its sheer height from the lower street level, but also by the enforced schism between tower and base. The tower is thus deprived from all vibrant street activity seeping into its various floors. It is also detached from the urban fabric of the city. The tower does not respect the neighboring heights of the building, or the planned grid of the urban fabric. The tower exists in isolation, from the immediate urban context and the inhabitants of the neighborhood.
Unesco Offices works with the stringent requirements given by the developer but adheres to the larger master plan of the urban context. The project is thus divided into three parts, a low rise building that continues the street level frontage and a high rise that retreats within the cluster of residential towers in the background. The commercial base acts as a glass link unifying both structures. A roof garden atop the base acts as a gathering point for all street and public activity and also a transition point to the various public and semi-public programs distributed across the tower. A gym, a café, outdoor pocket gardens, a pool and bars are all interlinked by various passages and stairs that puncture the massing of the building, and the main building façade, while also bringing life to the large “dead-wall” like back façade. A choreographed circulation offers a new spatial experience that enhances interaction between the public and the private, breaking the often-insular social environment of the office typology.
Unesco Offices / Beirut, Lebanon / 2014 / 25,000sqm