As an existential financial crisis threatens Lebanon, the opening of the LSB regional headquarters, located in the city of Tyre on the southern coast of Lebanon, examines the untapped potential in challenging established code.
Tyre witnessed uncontrolled urban development during the Lebanese civil war that spanned from 1975 to 1991. Post-war, newly adopted building codes favored an increase in the densification of existing neighborhoods and a disregard for public space that enabled the continued sprawl.
“Presented with a cornerstone lot in a vacant newly repurposed agricultural zone, we encountered both a challenge and a responsibility,” explains Karim Fakhry, principal at Domaine Public Architects.
“How do we mediate between the client’s emphasis on maximum visibility and exposure while emphasizing spatial values that could serve as a precedent for upcoming development?” asks Jean Nmeir, co-founder at DPA.
The headquarters establishes a balance between maximum visual presence and minimal physical presence. Limited to just three floors, it is more visually prominent than its actual scale.
The structure, with its post-tensioned roof and nine-meter cantilever, allows for a minimum building footprint. It thus liberates the ground floor from all structural elements, enabling a shaded public plaza as an open flexible space that can host various curatorial programs.
A sense of community would be further activated when future buildings emerge on adjacent sites.
Three primary visual connections further emphasize the role of the public spaces and respond to the context and orientation. The trapezoidal courtyard creates a visual conduit between the multilevel offices and the central circulation space.
The curved main façade hovers over the plaza to create a direct visual dialogue between the offices and the outdoors. The windows of the eastern and western façade frame the distant landscape while limiting solar gain.
The architectural elements perform dual roles. While they enhance public engagement, they advocate for sustainability.
The cantilevered volume, angled based on sun exposure and optimum latitude, is thus selfshading. Facing south, it both maximizes solar gain in winter and limits heat gain in summer.
The courtyard enables passive cooling and cross-ventilation while maximizing internal natural light.
The steel screen replaces the client’s want for security gates and performs as a curved brise-soleil, shading from southern sun exposure.
The skin and structure complement each other, as the structure enables the expansive public space, the skin adds depth to the main façade while lending a lightness to the heavy concrete building, an interplay between the building’s visual and physical presence.
Architects: Domaine Public Architects
Design Team: Karim Fakhry, Jean Nmeir, Abeer Fanous, Dragan Vukovic, and Rami Khoueiry
Client: Lebanese Swiss Bank
Photographers: Ieva Saudargaite