Winner of the 2011 World Architecture News (WAN) Award for unbuilt category/residential sector.
This residential tower, located in the center of Beirut, is inspired by the city’s urban form. The project site is adjacent to the ‘Ring Highway’ that connects East and West Beirut. The tower overlooks the city centre, Martyr’s Square, and the coastline, operating as an observatory. The goal pursued in this project was the resolution of two conflicting demands: maximizing the area of the plot used and creating variation in the different apartments.
The volume’s composition consists of a smoothly rising stack of glazed-unit apartments; this simultaneously generates diversity and a sense of unity. The cantilevered balconies and terraces take their irregular form from the urban fabric of Beirut, shifting it from a horizontal spread to a vertical composition. Shading louvers fulfill several functions: protect against excessive sunlight from the east and west, maintain privacy for the units, and provide the prospect for a vertical ‘green’ screen which would act as a unifying element of the façade. Beirut Observatory avoids unnecessary and clichéd “architectural gymnastics” yet still offers a refreshed take on the residential tower.