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Monday, April 21, 2008

USEK Student Housing

USEK Student Housing in Kaslik, Lebanon by Henri Eid Architect + SE.Arch_Samer Eid Architects

The following text and images are courtesy Henri Eid Architect + SE.Arch_Samer Eid Architects for their design of a women's dormitory at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik.

The plot of land is located in the periphery, at the South-East of USEK campus. The project thus sets a new limit to the Southern part of the campus perimeter, that was ill-defined so far. The degraded and exiguous site, surrounded with old residential buildings, represented a real difficulty, as did a relatively reduced and non orthogonal plot of land.

Project objectives were welcoming and hosting 200 young female students coming from all over Lebanon, creating a pleasant environment that is suitable for rest and study, solving the issues of intimacy and community which prevail on such a project, giving a degraded urban site a new lease of life, and shaping the university’s identity without compromising its historical and architectural value. The plan is a "U", oriented North-South, with a full-height central void, the atrium. Along the “U” arms, the rooms, oriented to the South, the East and the West, benefit from a fair period of sunshine and an appropriate ventilation.

The urban strategy which consists of closing the edifice on itself, hence isolating it from its environment, generated a large atrium, a well-protected, convivial, reassuring and closed monospace that is suitable for rest and study. Its spatial configuration enhances human contacts, meltings and meetings, boosts the social communication and cultural exchange, and promotes the centralization of control within the residential building. Circular openings on the cruciform structure float like auras of light above the chapel. The atrium is a space loaded with colors, expressing dynamism, energy and youth. These colored touches turn into counterpoints, hence striking a balance between “high tech” and “monastic” interiors.

The Northern and Southern elevations of the edifice constitute imposing blocks of raw concrete, ornamented with mere joints and holes only. The Southern façade, punctuated by rows of large window-boxes, ordered according to a well-structured and rigorous modular grid layout, is covered with a light metallic structure, conceived as a vegetal support. The Eastern and Western facades take the shape of two extended arches, punctuated by a network of concrete projections. Contemporary by the utilization of concrete, metal and glass, this work incarnates a modernity attenuated by the traditional warm and ocre tones.

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