saifi plaza
bcd, lebanon
2014

The project is located on two plots and defines the south-eastern corner of the Beirut Central District, within walking distance from its main business center, several shopping areas and educational institutions, thus presenting itself as a gateway to the overall development.
 
Started in 2005, the brief required two residential buildings on the two adjacent plots. In 2012, the building located on the southern corner was converted to an office building, in response to a high demand of the market, which was followed in 2014 by the second building.
 
The challenge was to create an envelope that absorbs the dual character of the site: the dynamic highway movement along its outer edges, and the calm Saifi Village setting on the inner.
 
The proposed massing for the southern office building -a monolith scheme- is translated in plan into two equally proportionate round-cornered triangles. The positioning of the two volumes makes way for a north-south urban passage connecting the speed road with the residential area , and acts as an extension of the view corridor in the axis of the street. The core is located centrally to both triangles and connects the two volumes by bridges at each floor. This allows free floor plates at the perimeter with the corners left free to be occupied by premium offices, enjoying different views to the city.
 
The skin plays a game of perception. The angular alignment of the stone and glass in a zigzag manner gives an illusion of a complete glass or stone finish depending on the viewers position in relation to the building. Since the project is located on a busy intersection, the skin is unfolded differently depending on the speed of motion of the viewer (pedestrian, bike or car). The building envelope and setbacks allows for three roof gardens that have direct access from the offices at the same floor.
 
The design of the building on the northern plot takes its cue from its southern counterpart and complements it to create a landmark gateway to BCD. The massing in part adds a third triangle, but which is hatched inside the body of the longer building block. The building boasts a 24m high atrium at the entrance lobby, that becomes a visual extension of the east-west street behind. The skin here flattens out as the building takes a more elongated shape.
 
Finally, the project conception on both plots is based on a high flexible floor plan. Working on a rigorous grid of 1.2m, floor plates can be easily exploited as a full one-office scheme, or broken down into up to eight offices per floor. This flexibility also makes way for the possibility of a duplex office which is celebrated with an atrium expressed on the facade. 

area: 

8 floors 7,400 m², 4 basements 5,800 m²

team:

architecture: nabil gholam architects
structural design: Bureau d’Etudes Rodolphe Mattar,
electro-mechanical design: Nasr & Khalaf Consulting Engineers
technical control: Socotec Liban
3D model: The Bakery/Rapidmanufactory
Photo: Yara Bissani