American University of Beirut, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
Department of Architecture and Design | Spring 2010

ARCH304/406 Vertical Design Studio C | Monday and Fridays 2:00pm – 7:00pm
Facilitators: Carla Aramouny | J. Matthew Thomas

An Alternate Guide to Beirut: A Studio on Infrastructure and Tourism


The future city is primarily an infrastructural one, overlapping networks and systems with our physical environment. The necessity and proliferation of these networks are detaching more and more programmatic usage from their dominating structures, forcing a rereading of our city’s fabric. Our cities are now collections of highways, sewage systems, electric power lines, and water channels. How can we re-instigate architectural and programmatic strategies into the heart of infrastructural systems? How can our built environment be re-imagined to couple the existence of such necessary networks with performative public usage? The interest in this studio will be to investigate infrastructure as sites of inquiry for architectural interventions. Tourism, the country’s most flourishing sector, and traditionally the typical lens for reading Beirut, will be considered as an essential framework for the development of such projects.

The studio will begin by zooming in on four main infrastructural sectors: water, transportation, energy, and waste. Through analysis and mappings, their conditions and effect on greater Beirut will be explored, moving from the macro scale of the city to the micro scale of an architectural project. Students will then be asked to re-imagine the relationship between these public works within the peripheral city limits, and to propose a new architectural intervention that hybridizes infrastructure with tourist and public programs.

Throughout the investigation, sustainable thinking will be considered as an inherent need in our built environment. How can we propose new architectural strategies that impact our infrastructural cities within the impending crises of energy, environment and climate change? How can these projects once superimposed with infrastructure utilize tourist and public amenities to create attractor points in the city? The interest will be to propose hybrid architectural programs that support the diverse sectors, and help each sustain the other through repurposing, rehabilitating and reinvigorating.