On the architectural abuse of Panopticism, the reuse of modernism, the disintegration of hysterical objects and the integration of a festival in Beirut.
A New Ruin, And Its Festival, for Beirut
Burj The site of the intervention is a tower named Burj el-Murr. It was built in 1974 andowned by members of the despite many dermatological renovations and designs has never been more than a concrete artifact. Originally retail and a cinema, as welll as underground parking (Naamani). The tower was structurally ambitious, relying on a hollow-tube concrete structure, where all the facades are load bearing and are braced in the long direction by shear walls that enclose the core of thebuilding. proportions, does not require the addition of prominent auxiliary buildings, or even the addition of windows or glazing, which would compromise the ruined quality of the tower, and by creating a program that will further sustain and celebrate this ruin quality. The structural organization of the building, in three parts, is used to organize the procession and to rationalize thetransformations to the building.
Panopticism Architecture in Beirut hasn’t yet normalized the terrors created by panopticism. The overwhelming collective amnesia that has characterized the post-war era in Lebanon is transcended by one fear: Acrophobia. Almost all the Holiday Inn tower, Burj Rizk…) have resisted reconstruction, and are still empty shells. In “Yalo”; Elias
parts of the civil war. It iscrucial to reconcile Beirut’s architecture with panopticism, and transform it into a positive creator of public consciousness towards the city. The project does this by transforming the building into a ‘Beirutorama’ of sorts, merging the civic experience of theaters and concerts with the almost military experience of observing the city.
Cranes, Balloons, and Ruins: In order to adequatelyresolve and respond to this seemingly generalized acrophobia, The program takes root in rut Spring. Far from being precedents in the traditional architectural sense, these events inform the problematic of panopticism in Beirut. Hashim Sarkis’ Hot Air Balloon was a strategic proposal to democratize panopticism and reconcile the Lebanese psyche with verticality, but it is precisely this democratizationof panoptic gaze that rendered it vulnerable. A few weeks before the Hariri assassination, a yellow hot air balloon was set up, a stone’s throw away from the tower., that gave the Lebanese a rare opportunity at getting a bird’s eye view of their capital. The balloon’s launch pad was designed by Hashim Sarkis, the Aga Khan professor of architecture at the Harvard GSD. When the Hariri Assassinationhappened, the balloon was automatically moved to a location far from the blast site, and in the tense security climate that ensued, the balloon had to stop functioning. Its panoptic properties meant it was too problematic, since it was offering the Lebanese to be prime witnesses of major political events for the mere fee of ten dollars. Another consequence of the Hariri assassination is theBeirut spring. The only image that managed to capture the scale of that event was taken by an adventurous photographer from a crane. The image captured the spirit of the Protest, but also pointed out the lack of accessible lookout points from which to observe it: no one had experienced the revolution from above. Since one of the goals of the thesis is to maintain the iconic, ruin-like quality of thetower, another study that has informed the program was the analysis of the link between festivals and ruins, and of their cultural, political and spatial contexts. As a result of those investigations, the program consists of a plaza, a garden, a philharmonic concert hall, an extension to the Conservatoire providing extra rehearsal spaces, that form the base of the tower, and connect it to the...