|Lighting Beirut Architecture|
From a page on Facebook, I discovered it was project being launched by Solidere. The plan was to light up a large urban area using permanent image projection to reveal the architecture by night.
The first phase of the project, on June 18, lit up 28 key buildings and sites in Downtown Beirut -- in Foch, Allenby, Weygand and Fakhry Bey Streets, Bab Idriss and Beirut Souks.
As I made my way Downtown with my cousin Lillian just before 8 p.m., I didn’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to find throngs of people gathering at Trablous Street, in front of the old building of Beirut’s French-language daily L’Orient-Le Jour, where the ceremony was due to kickoff.
As dusk fell, we realized it was going to be an absorbing evening. L’Orient’s building was covered in several vertical long sheets with a stage in front. People were milling about Beirut Souks in expectation, sitting in the various restaurants and coffee shops and finally converging toward the stage.
|People gathering on Trablous Street|
|Mounir Douaidy on stage|
|The captivating Fayha Choir|
|Enthralled by Maestro Barkev Taslakian's energy...|
|... and the beauty of the voices|
|Reine Merhebi cheered by...|
|...her mother and brother|
|L'Orient building unveiled in the background|
Fayha sang for more than half an hour. Being so enthralled by the energy of Maestro Taslakian and the beauty of the voices, we would have loved the performance to go on for much longer.
We were then invited to walk around and see the lighting of the other buildings while flying lanterns were released and filled the sky. Pamphlets were available with a map of where the lit buildings were.
|The only building I could capture with my camera|
With our maps in hand, we walked around. Among the buildings now lit in Downtown Beirut are: Fenicia Bank, Al Dabbagha Mosque, Idriss Building (Foch Street); Hakimi, Khawam, Tamari and Sehnaoui buildings (Allenby Street); Municipality of Beirut, Amir Assaf Mosque, Al Omari Mosque, Sursock Building (Weygand Street); the Bab Idriss sculptures, Tamari and L’Orient buildings and various Beirut Souks blocks on Fakhry Bey Street and in the Souks themselves.
|From Lighting Beirut Architecture Facebook page|
Envisioned as a sustainable solution, the projectors reduce energy consumption. No light obviously goes to waste, and the city’s dark sky is preserved. Eventually, Lighting Beirut Architecture aims to turn the city center into a lively platform for creative expression and cultural experimentation with light.
|The building's front looks like lace|
Their team undertook site surveys jointly with DIAP, another French firm dedicated to image projection and multimedia. DIAP executed the building survey and introduced a new optical concept of high definition gobo projector needed for the project.
Lebanese lighting solution providers Mamari Frères (MFR) were commissioned to find the most suitable technical solution. They partnered with Italian manufacturers Lampo and conceived and developed a projector assembled by hand to bear all weather conditions.
|Designers Vanessa and Yasmeen|
There’s much more to come… That morning, I walked round an area I hadn’t been to for years and there are also titbits and more choirs and singing from the Music Festival, held on June 21 to greet the advent of summer.
You can see more pictures of the evening here.