Today, I was in town for a walk with the PoroCity Studio, between the Beirut Central District, Saifi Village and Gemmayzeh. If Collage City exists, it is certainly there, with various urbanisms and architectures : colonial (BCD), global (Rawche waterfront), new urbanist ( Saifi), Ad Hoc ( Gemmayzeh and Sursok)...
Beirut waterfront. courtesy of skyscraper.comSaifi Village, a new urbanist legacy
The walk was an exploration of urban moods, fabrics and moments of porosities, created by types of architecture with private public gradients.
Most of the 1940-1960 building types included transitional spaces (balconies, porches, staircases with underpass, covered open spaces, enclosed coutyards, verandas...), giving depth to building skins, solid and voids and experience of space between inside of outside. In my mind, this in-between space related more appropriately to the city's mediterranean roots, and was embedded in the building culture of the city between WWII and 1975. Design and building culture degraded since war, becoming mundane and elementary, populating the city with short-term edifices that aged very badly. It also generated an inward residential architecture. As such, most balconies of former buildings got converted to glazed, climatised rooms and the 1980-2000 apartment building types had less of transitional spaces, reducing the skin and public-private interaction to the thickness of walls.
Climatized Balconies. image courtesy of shutterstock.