Project Description

Within the past decade, an uncontrolled urbanization and real-estate speculation has saturated the Lebanese Coast, exceeding the territory’s maximum building capacity, and unfolding into its mountainous hinterland, in the hope for more affordable property.

As a result, urban sprawl is now enacting in mountainous towns and their peripheries, following a rule-based zoning that is not specific to topography or lot size. The problem is further dramatic in unplanned towns, where the only regulating factor is the provisionary zoning law of 25-50, used for cities and towns with no zoning.

Under such law, the lot becomes a flattened backdrop to a two-floors building block occupying 25% of the lot, and the 75% remaining open space takes the redundant proportions of setbacks; preventing meaningful uses of outdoor space around the residential building.

At a large scale, the landscape bears evidence of the physical rifts that such general regulations impose upon it, with a severe ecological and aesthetic toll.

Concerned by the development that is dictated by real-estate oriented regulations, the following design research sets to re-engage the threatened rural territory, by questioning general zoning as a tool for development in rural and semi-rural Lebanon.  Taking several prototypical lots in unplanned towns, our argument develops instead form-based explorations based on specific local conditions, in order to result with integrated strategies between built and unbuilt space of the lot.

Informed by traditional domestic architecture which embedded specific frameworks for adaptation within the landscape through vernacular elements such as courtyards, agricultural terraces, open staircases, the research proposes a contemporary architectural language of restructuring open space elements indirectly inspired by our indigenous characteristics.

Project Data
Program
Urban Research
Location
Lebanon
Year
2018
Credits
Team
Boulos Douaihy, Sandra Frem, Samir Bitar, Samar Samad
Description

Within the past decade, an uncontrolled urbanization and real-estate speculation has saturated the Lebanese Coast, exceeding the territory’s maximum building capacity, and unfolding into its mountainous hinterland, in the hope for more affordable property.

As a result, urban sprawl is now enacting in mountainous towns and their peripheries, following a rule-based zoning that is not specific to topography or lot size. The problem is further dramatic in unplanned towns, where the only regulating factor is the provisionary zoning law of 25-50, used for cities and towns with no zoning.

Under such law, the lot becomes a flattened backdrop to a two-floors building block occupying 25% of the lot, and the 75% remaining open space takes the redundant proportions of setbacks; preventing meaningful uses of outdoor space around the residential building.

At a large scale, the landscape bears evidence of the physical rifts that such general regulations impose upon it, with a severe ecological and aesthetic toll.

Concerned by the development that is dictated by real-estate oriented regulations, the following design research sets to re-engage the threatened rural territory, by questioning general zoning as a tool for development in rural and semi-rural Lebanon.  Taking several prototypical lots in unplanned towns, our argument develops instead form-based explorations based on specific local conditions, in order to result with integrated strategies between built and unbuilt space of the lot.

Informed by traditional domestic architecture which embedded specific frameworks for adaptation within the landscape through vernacular elements such as courtyards, agricultural terraces, open staircases, the research proposes a contemporary architectural language of restructuring open space elements indirectly inspired by our indigenous characteristics.

FROM SETBACK TO OPEN SPACE 01 of