Located close to the old demarcation line that divided Beirut during the war, in an area short on traditional urban structure, the Campus of Innovation, Economy and Sport is wedded to the limits of its site. Despite the area’s history, the surroundings present as a mishmash of buildings strung in a line, a rather typical situation in post-war urban Lebanon. Conceived as a vertical campus and a total of 60,000 m2 of BUA on a parcel just 6000 m2 in size, it is at once monolithic, fragmented and open. Its complexity is due to the multifarious nature of the brief. This was addressed in a way that created as much assigned as indeterminate space.
Empty space was accorded great importance, as a vector for fluidity, for creating a sense of belonging and for abetting unmediated encounters; this was an approach to architecture as public space that was suited to experimentation with new ways of daily living. The conception of public space as project space was an attempt to reinvest Beirut with the critical resistance it lost in the war, which erased collective spaces.
At roof-level, empty space – presented here as a space of possibility – is exploited to create a great aerial walkway, which overlooks the city. Even more than is the case with the cantilevered parts, volumetric tensions are deliberately heightened to invoke modernism. We exist in a culture of mass typical of Lebanese architecture. Here, this "mass" is questioned, placed under tension, much, perhaps, as Lebanon itself right now.