Martyrs Square Competition

Martyr’s Square was the symbol of Beirut during the most beautiful years of its ‘nahda’ (renaissance) when it was the Switzerland of the Middle East. During the civil war, the Green Line between east and west halves of the city, along which most of the destruction happened, passed through it. The entire city centre area was expropriated to be renovated in one go by a private company, SOLIDERE, which organised a competition for the development of the square, a small attempt to increase cooperation on the decisions taken regarding a city centre from which many Beirutis felt dispossessed.
One of the main decisions was to treat Martyrs Square in an asymmetrical fashion. The concept deals with the circulation as follows: - On the west side the Bechara el Khoury road was left as it is. - On the east side the circulation was diverted towards Georges Haddad rapid transit road to avoid traffic nuisance. Only a parking access was created. On the other hand, Martyrs Square was enlarged toward the east and rendered more human, friendly and accessible to pedestrians. This was done by lowering the row of adjacent buildings to 12m with large entertainment sidewalks, as opposed to the crossing vehicular traffic on the west side. A linear green gap was then developed to separate the buildings from the square itself creating distinct typological spaces. It runs on the same axis and at the place of the Damascus road. This green space is crossed by small pedestrian bridges flirting with the leaves of the trees planted below. Martyrs Square has a past, while the new city extension has a future. The new city and its corniche should play the role of an expansion tank, allowing pedestrians to drift towards the open air. Our other main decision was to relate the old historical Beirut to the future city thus extending Martyrs Square with a strong link to the new corniche.

Martyrs Square Competition

Martyrs Square Competition

Martyrs Square Competition

Martyrs Square Competition

Martyrs Square Competition

Martyrs Square Competition

Martyrs Square Competition

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