In Memoriam of the Beirut Blast
A year after the terrible Beirut blast, Carlos Moubarak Architect has imagined Beirut Memorial Park as a civic initiative that aims to create a dynamic, participatory, and spiritual infrastructure in reminiscence of the tragic event.
Strategically located within the Beirut Port grounds where the explosion happened, the proposed site around the blast scene is a flat and vast peninsula of 11 ha. The huge facility that is planned, is a centre of remembrance, quiet retrospection, and a place of hope for dreams that can be realised.
Beirut Memorial Park is conceived as a major urban acupuncture project that falls in line with an integrated and people-centered vision of the capital’s future sustainable model of reconstruction and development. Offering Beirutis a new public space and a much-needed large-scale green park, the design proposal will also restore the capital’s historical connection to the shore in an innovative way, reintroducing the waterfront experience of a seaside city.
“Both the imposing silos’ ruins, as well as the explosion’s epicentre, provide the focal points around which the memorial elements are finely placed and calibrated. Emerging out of the site ruins, the project is envisioned as a green public park in an absolute fusion of architecture, landscape, and infrastructure,” explains Carlos Moubarak.
Integrating both the memorial park’s and the port logistics’ activities, the design layout is organised on two seamlessly connected outdoor levels each proposing contrasted visitor experiences. While the upper plateau offers an outlook on the port activities and panoramic views of the sea and the city skyline, the lower plateau integrates the park’s more serene and introspective spaces. On its east side, the dock’s destroyed section is now the stage of the memorial park’s centerpiece.
Radiating out the detonation center, the remembrance ring is the architectural crystallisation of the blast through a circular-based object, a symbol of unity. With an outer diameter of 120 meters, the black concrete monument hovers above the exact location of the massive crater left by the explosion. Highly contrasted spatial sequences lead progressively to the ring’s central space dedicated to mourning and honouring the victims.
While the remembrance ring sits just next to the silos’ ruins, the project’s other components unfold around this massive focal point, systematically framing their views on it. Integrating a series of warehouses dedicated to the port services, the project’s main programme is however composed of various and complementary cultural facilities achieving the concept of a memorial park envisioned as a vast open platform for artistic and cultural expression, a place for social interaction and cohesion.
“Landlocked within the precincts of a commercial seaport, the park’s public access is provided directly from an intermodal mobility hub to be located in the heart of the city. The main link is a pedestrian and cyclist bridge that spans the highway that separates the residential areas from the port grounds. A sky tram is designed as a shuttle to access the project while a roof helipad is integrated into the park’s design for drone taxi services,” according to the architect.
Beyond merely proposing to build a commemorative monument, the architect’s initiative and associated design approach is meant to match the scale of the disaster, to meet the needs and expectations of the people with a holistic and participatory response to the tragedy. It is conceived out of the belief that memorials are critical tools in shaping the values and identity of a society and that great architecture can be a powerful mode of expression, reflecting our collective aspiration as a civilisation.
Project Name: Beirut Memorial Park
Location: Port of Beirut – Beirut, Lebanon
Gross built area: 35,000sqm
Land Area: 11 ha
Architectural Firm: Carlos Moubarak architect
Firm Location: Beirut, Lebanon
Images copyrights: © carlos moubarak architect