After the great buzz that still has the Lebanese community talking about it, Archileb is following up on the much anticipated first intervention of Studio Invisible and REACT’s Beirut Wonder Forest. Prototype #1 is a 70 year old residential structure in Rue 6 of Sector 46 in Badaro, Beirut. As Wassim Melki puts it: “[It’s] Nothing fancy, just a couple of trees in a large fixed pot on each rooftop". When the intervention was completed, the newly founded Ngo and Studio Invisible shared with us the project’s information.
“Alongside adding some green cover to the area of Badaro, the aim of this prototype was to create a platform of experimentation allowing us to be aware of the challenges to be faced in accomplishing similar interventions, as well as creating an example that would answer all frequently asked questions. And here it is important to Note that we have founded an NGO (REACT), to push for the Implementation and the follow-up of “Beirut Wonder Forest”.
Following the publication of Beirut Wonder Forest, one of the major concerns (and criticism) we were faced with was the issue of Structure, and if buildings in Beirut would be able to sustain the extra weight generated by the trees and their soil. Accordingly, it was primordial to have a relatively “Old” edifice for our prototype. It was also important to have it in a Low to Middle level residential area where the public involvement and attention would be higher. We have therefore chosen the Nawfal Building, a 70 years old structure, slightly affected by shrapnel, but built using reinforced concrete, and we were lucky enough to have the blessing of its owner. A simple structural survey was enough to conclude that our intervention would not cause any risk, and to be even more on the safe side, we have decided to place the Larger trees (weighing more than 200kg), centered on top of the building’s pillars. Moreover, to avoid any moisture on the concrete, all pots were elevated on a plate.
The other important challenge was the trees and shrubs themselves, and here the selection criteria was based on the fact that the species should survive the Pot condition, should be common to the Beirut Climate, as well as the roof natural Condition, such as strong winds, shade from surrounding buildings, etc... On the Other hand, it was important also to choose species that have relatively Low maintenance, i.e. requiring minimal pruning, not susceptible to diseases and pests, and relatively drought-tolerant.
All the trees/shrubs selected are Broadleaf and mostly evergreen, to maintain the green scenery and be able to contribute to some extent to the air regeneration throughout the whole year. Here is the List of all the Trees/Shrubs that we used:
-5 x Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)
-1 x Fortunella margarita (Kamquat)
-1 x Viburnum tinus
-1 x Ficus lyrata
-Pittosporum tobira (nana)
-Punica granatum nana
-Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine)
- Vitis vinifera (grape vine)
-Jaminum sp.A small leftover space has also been used
On the other hand, 2 trees were planted in a small leftover space on the ground floor:
-1 x Citrus x limoni (lemon tree)
-1 x Olea europaea (Olive)
And last but not least, we are complimenting the prototype with a basic rainwater collection system. However we are expecting the irrigation and the longterm maintenance of the prototype -and the project as a whole- to be manual and on an individual basis, as first it would lower the costs drastically, and second, it will involve the residents in the process. However farfetched that may sound, we believe (and Hope), that we as Lebanese should be capable of accomplishing something more significant than the biggest Hummus plate.”
All trees were provided by: Albizia
Agricultural Consultant: Dima Rachid
Photos courtesy of: Carel Adem, Rana Rmeily, Pierre Attallah