Jbeil 881 sits on a prominent location at the entrance of Byblos bordering the highway and local road leading into the old town. As such, the project aims to act as a landmark at the scale of the city and yet enmesh itself within the dynamic urban fabric of jbeil.
Conceptually, the project is conceived as a three-tiered division consisting of:
– Base: the base is the solid part of the project including two basements as well as articulating the various differences in levels.
-Gap: the gap accommodates the commercial shops on the ground floor. it is treated as lightly as possible providing transparency and permeability to the internal courtyard.
– Suspended village: a series of “box”-like volumes resting on an elevated platform with landscape. They represent the signal or the iconic element of the project. On approaching the site, one would perceive the surreal scene of a rural townscape hovering above the ground.
The bulk of the program consists of a cluster of restaurants designed around a central courtyard, thus giving shops frontages onto the main roads and onto an internal piazza similar to village squares. The main piazza and upper circulation spaces are covered by a series of overlapping steel and glass canopies, allowing the extension of the operations well into the winter season. A giant olive tree anchors the courtyard which is delineated by peripheral landscape defining circulation spaces and seating terraces for the restaurants. Water spouts simultaneously animate the space while also serving as a passive cooling agent in summer. When the spouts are turned off, the piazza becomes a multi-functional space for season-specific events such as concerts, markets,…. thus creating more attraction to the venue.
Traditionally upper floors have always been problematic in commercial projects, due to clients’ resistance to climbing stairs. Therefore our intention was to replicate the conditions of the ground floor by establishing another programmatic reference plane creating an additional pole of attraction smoothly pulling people upwards. So this is why we created a suspended village, a cluster of pavilions laid-out around a central void giving onto the main piazza below. Also, major circulation elements are not only perceived as stairs but as a continuation of the public domain. As such, they accommodate landscaping as well as resting platforms allowing informal additional seating possibilities for people casually grabbing coffee or a drink…
Architecturally speaking, and as a extension of the sidewalk, the base (walls and floor) is clad in grey basalt which disintegrates into moucharrabiahs to allow for ventilation or is voided in instances to allow for greenery. The pavilions on the first floor are clad in strips of local ramleh stone mechanically fixed and separated by voids which visually reduce the impact of the built-up area on the first floor thus enhancing the lightness of the suspended village.
In terms of accessibility, we implemented a drop-off road on the east, adjacent to the municipal garden that facilitates access to the project and constitutes one of the main entrances to the project . A ramp in the base connects the drop-off road to the service road lower on the west, while also linking basements one and two which primarily house parking spaces and technical services. To the south, the main city sidewalk is extended towards the project as a mini piazza (used for seating and/or temporary parking) smoothly transitioning into the landscaped steps of the second main entrance.