EXPERIENCING THE "SPIRIT OF PLACE" AS A DESIGN TASK: THE STREET OF HAMRA IN THE HEART OF BEIRUT
Keywords: Architecture, Interior Design, Heritage, Spirit of Place, Design Studio
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to introduce a subject related to the concept of re-use of historic places and their contemporary architecture settings. In this research, we examine a particular case study of the street of Hamra, located in the heart of Beirut, Lebanon. Hamra street has a particular character with a specific heritage and local spirit, and it is important to preserve this heritage value as part of any new architectural design intervention. In able to test our intentions of strengthening this strong relation between the specific heritage and any new architectural intervention, we used a method that relies on students' experiments in the case of a design studio. It is an experimental approach where the students of the architecture and design school of the Lebanese American University, were asked as a constraint in their concept, to integrate part of the heritage that characterizes Hamra: "the spirit of place" into their design while using information and communication technologies (ICTs). As a first step, they had to get familiar with the concept of heritage in its general meaning, then they studied the history, the heritage of Hamra and the urban fabric. They had to observe and collect data and then to focus on a main idea that will define the concept of their architectural design. As a second step, results were presented and compared. After analyzing the results, this experimental research showed that it is important to consider the "spirit of place" while designing a space.