New York and Oslo-based studio Snøhetta has released images of their design for the Banque Libano Francaise (BLF) headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. In what will be Snøhetta’s first project in the country, the design features a plethora of vegetation sprayed across the building’s openings.
“The design for the new general headquarters points towards a new future both for the bank and for the city and community of which it is a part,” the firm said. “The BLF headquarters should be recognizable with all its public qualities independently of evolving corporate strategies or changing demands on the interior spaces. It embodies a new future for the bank, as well referencing the rich history and value set that has evolved over generations.”
Wrapped in a skin of checkerboard voids, each which hold a window, the orthogonal system is replicated at a much larger scale to form the building’s overall structure. Snøhetta describes the concept as “both generic and conceptual at the same time,” with the building taking an aesthetic reminiscent of a Tetris formation.
(Courtesy MIR / Snøhetta)
The style also facilitates the opening of wide-birthing terraces which house the greenery while providing much needed shading from the Lebanese summer sun. With temperatures averaging 82 degrees fahrenheit during this period, these will serve as both meeting places and spots to take in the expansive views across the city.
Indeed, the structure’s relationship to its context was a key driver in the design phase; the firm describes how the “public base” connects at street level. “Maintaining a high degree of permeability at street level is an essential element for the project, ensuring connectivity across the site and with the wider neighborhood,” Snøhetta added on their website.
Other parameters focused on economic and environmental factors. “The project must be fundamentally economically viable,” they continued, going on to say “[it] must give back to the city and complement the existing urban context” and “must respond to the environment both in regard to energy consumed and with regard the embodied energy of the structure.”
“We are delighted to enter into this creative partnership with the BLF. In a time of profound change and transformation, the BLF is an ideal partner for Snøhetta with our shared ideals of sustainability, community, and dialogue,” said Snøhetta founding partner Kjetil T. Thorsen.