Landscape Architecture - Honours

The Phoenix

The Phoenix is a masterplan project located in Downtown Beirut, Lebanon that responds to the catastrophic explosion that occurred on the Port of Beirut. With a contemporary and modern twist on Islamic Garden ideologies, the landscape is intended to provide a place of respite, reflection and tranquillity.

On August 4th, 2020, at approximately 6:00pm, a fire broke out in Hangar 12 on the Port of Beirut. The cause of the fire is still unknown to this day but it resulted in 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploding, sending a catastrophic shock-wave throughout the city and up to a 10km radius. The explosion caused tremendous damage to the city and beyond in a matter of seconds, leaving over 300,000 people homeless. Over 200 people died at the scene and further into the city and over 7000 people were injured. It was reported that the blast could be felt in Cyprus, Egypt, over 240km away where people thought there an earthquake.

The tragedy occurred amongst many disasters that Lebanon is still facing to this day. The COVID-19 crisis has deeply affected Lebanon with a total of almost 650,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and is averaging approximately 600 cases per day. The damage to the buildings affected people’s ability to quarantine and isolate safely. The economic crisis across Lebanon has only escalated since the explosion and there are many basic
necessities that people do not have access to. Many hospitals were destroyed, restricting the already limited level of care that people were able to receive. In the middle of October 2021, a group of people were protesting against the judge investigating the blast were shot at by the Lebanese Forces in Beirut. At least six people were killed and another 32 were injured from the gunfire.

The blast stole hope from those who already endured so much

adam harvey, 4 corners abc

The master plan takes inspiration from Islamic Gardens and the ideology of offering a “heaven on earth” in a city that has been at the forefront of war and destruction.

While maintaining the fundamental elements of Islamic Gardens such as geometry, water and symmetry, there are areas where those “rules” are broken and turned into a contemporary and modern space.

At the northern and southern ends of the site, people are greeted with a formal courtyard that follows the traditional Islamic Garden styles. Elements include water features, symmetry in the paths and planting with paving that is custom to Islamic design.

The curved pathways going further in the site break away from the traditional Islamic Garden style. This provides a contemporary approach, while still paying homage to the traditional elements such as Islamic design tiling, vast vegetation and water elements.

The parkland includes a memorial space that retains the iconic Martyr’s statue from Martyr’s Square and honours those that lost their lives in the horrific port explosion. The four marble walls surrounding the statue represent the warehouse that went up in flames and has the casualties names engraved on them. This space offers reflection in a natural environment where people can pay their respects and look back on the history of their city while also being comforted in a dense vegetated area.

The purpose of this video is to create an immersive and emotional storytelling experience. The film follows a narrative of someone who lived through the port explosion, what life was like pre-, during and post-explosion and is followed by a vision of the future of Beirut.

Yasmeen Allouche

Yasmeen is a fourth year Landscape Architecture student who will be graduating at the end of 2021. She is passionate about creating therapeutic landscapes, offering respite and tranquillity while creating a positive cognitive influence on communities.