Beirut is a permanent archaeological site. Buried and then rebuilt seven times over the centuries, its landscape today reflects only its recent history. The ruins of buildings overgrown with vegetation, standing alongside traditional houses with red-tile roofs, testify to the architecture that belonged to this Mediterranean city.
Stone Garden, created by Lina Ghotmeh—Architecture, is a residential tower in Beirut’s port area. A testament to the possibility of building homes even in times of crisis, the project is an expression of architecture’s ability to be a medium for healing.
“I designed this building, located barely a mile from the port area, as an expression of the city’s history – a reaction to the war-torn built landscape that I got strangely accustomed to,” says Lina Ghotmeh. “I needed to design an earthly presence amid the glass mirroring heights competing for the Mediterranean sky.”
By transforming tumultuous events into opportunities to create, the tower resembles a sculpture designed on an urban scale. Its differently sized openings preserve the memory of the city while, from inside, they frame the sea in multiple ways.
Many of the windows have plants, the size of which varies to distinguish each floor, generating new forms of common spaces. The shape and its main materials (earth, concrete, fiber) were inspired by its location. They inject life into a tower that seems to emerge from the surrounding ground – a clear sign of the building being fully rooted in its setting.
Ghotmeh continues: “Just before 6 o’clock on August 4, 2020 (I’d arrived in Beirut from Paris only a day earlier), a massive explosion hit the city, erasing its beating heart by the port. The explosion killed more than 191 people, injured over 6500, and displaced 300 thousand. It destroyed over six thousand homes and spilled ash over many historical buildings, muting the history that they were still softly whispering”.
The tower survived Beirut’s massive August 2020 explosion. Today, as well as apartments, it’s home to the Mina Image Center, an arts space dedicated to painting, photography, debates, and reflections centering on the Middle East.
Architect: Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture
Location: Beirut ,Lebanon
Photography by © Iwan Baan, Takuji Shimmura, Joe-Lahdou, Laurian Ghinitoiu
courtesy of Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture