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Zeytouneh Square Beirut, Lebanon by Gustafson Porter


Zeytouneh Square | Image Credit | Tony El hage

Zeytouneh Square is one of four squares in a sequence of connected urban spaces along the Shoreline Walk, which forms an important part of the reconstruction of the Beirut city centre. The area suffered extensive physical and emotional damage during civil war between 1975 and 1991.
This article was featured on the World Landscape Architecture’s website ( written by Damian Holmes on November the 1st, 2012.
During the war, a vast rubbish mountain emerged from the daily tipping of waste into the Mediterranean. The city had once prided itself on its beautiful rocky shoreline Corniche, lined with avenues of palms and cafés with views towards distant horizons. Guided by a new master plan, areas of the city have been preserved, others demolished, whilst the remediated landfill is set to become a vast new district projecting out into the sea. Rather than leave the old coastline land locked and redundant, it was decided to create a leisurely pedestrian route that straddled the boundary and the differences between the old and new cities.

Zeytouneh Square Plan | Image Credit | Gustafson Porter
ZEYTOUNEH SQUARE is a key link to the surrounding city. Terraces provide an informal amphitheatre for concerts, festivals and films. The surface of the square extends across the roads to the surrounding buildings in a unifying gesture. The paving patterns are inspired by the black and white patterning in traditional Lebanese architecture. Bold stripes change like contours with the site’s topography creating a fractal landscape as the contrasting colours interact with the terraces.

Zeytouneh Square | Images Credit | Imad Gemayel Architects

Shoreline Walk Plan | Image Credit | Gustafson Porter
The SHORELINE WALK, linking four squares (including ZEYTOUNEH SQUARE), is placed between the natural topography and rationalised medieval street layout of the old city and the engineered grid of the new landfill. It is located between memories of the past and hopes for the future, between activities that made a connection to an organic coastline, influenced by the rhythms of the natural world, to a new contemporary landscape that alludes to and reveals those past memories and events, whilst helping shape the new character and dynamism of a city shared by a people of many faiths and cultural influences.
Designer: Gustafson Porter
Client: Solidere
Collaborators: Imad Gemayel Architects, Nasr & Khalaf, Bureau Michel Chacar, DG Jones, The Fountain Workshop, Projects & Supplies


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