Snøhetta is making their mark on Lebanese soil with the Banque Libano Francaise's new headquarters in Beirut's Medawar District. They were recently commissioned to design the office building upon winning a two-stage international competition with their proposal, whimsically dubbed the “Magic Box”.
Starting out with 30 firms, Snøhetta won over eight finalists including big-name contenders like Barozzi Veiga, Farshid Moussavi, Kengo Kuma, and BIG, as well as other emerging practices.
Read on for more.
The winning scheme focuses on the bank's future and incorporates changing demands in corporate office design, while also paying homage to the BLF's nearly 50-year legacy. Although the building was already expected to be a distinctive landmark in the city, Snøhetta's main objective in their scheme was to create a sense of community.
The Jenga-like tower clearly articulates a public and private domain. The base connects to the street and its surrounding neighborhood, which is transforming with design firms, restaurants, and galleries setting up shop.
Aside the obvious requirement of providing enough workspace, the tower's most noticeable feature is its checkered exterior, with outdoor terraces that appear as if they were carved right out of the building. The terraces will serve not only as gathering places for employees, but also as “the primary organization for all [of the building's] workspaces,” Snøhetta describes on their website.
Snøhetta also emphasizes that sustainability is paramount in their design, which will incorporate Economic, Social, and Environmental Sustainability, ensuring that the project will benefit both BLF and its urban surroundings. “The parameters for sustainability will evolve with the user requirements and project specific criteria,” the firm writes.
In the coming months, Snøhetta will work alongside BLF in the design process. If all goes according to plan, construction is set to begin in 2017.
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