Enhancing Public Engagement

The design of LSB Regional Headquarters by Domaine Public Architects challenges established codes and effectively enhances urban public space, social engagement, and sustainable development

LSB Regional Headquarters by Domaine Public Architects

Fact File
Client: Lebanese Swiss Bank
Location: Tyre, Lebanon
Budget: $2.5 million
Architecture & Landscape: Domaine
Lead Architects: Karim Fakhry, Jean Nmeir
Photographer: Ieva Saudargaite
Source: V2.com

The LSB Regional Headquarters, located in the city of Tyre on the southern coast of Lebanon, establishes a balance between maximum visual presence and minimal physical presence. Limited to just three floors, it is more visually prominent than its actual scale. The structure, with its post-tensioned roof and nine-meter cantilever, allows for a minimum building footprint. It thus liberates the ground floor from all structural elements, enabling a shaded public plaza as an open flexible space that can host various programs.

LSB Regional Headquarters by Domaine Public Architects

A sequence of inclusive spaces promotes interaction as visitors transition from the open public plaza into a more private courtyard. Three primary visual connections further emphasize the role of public spaces and respond to the context and orientation. The trapezoidal courtyard creates a visual conduit between the multi-level offices and the central circulation space. The curved main façade hovers over the plaza to create a direct visual dialogue between the offices and the outdoors. The windows of the eastern and western façade frame the distant landscape while limiting solar gain.

The architectural elements perform dual roles. While they enhance public engagement, they advocate sustainability. The cantilevered volume, angled based on sun exposure and optimum latitude, is thus self-shading. Facing south, it maximizes solar gain in winter and limits heat gain in summer. The courtyard enables passive cooling and cross-ventilation while maximizing internal natural light.

LSB Regional Headquarters by Domaine Public Architects

The steel screen replaces the client’s want for security gates and performs as a curved brise-soleil, shading from the southern sun exposure. The skin and structure complement each other, as the structure enables the expansive public space, the skin adds depth to the main façade while lending a lightness to the heavy concrete building, an interplay between the building’s visual and physical presence.

The building code was the most challenging parameter in the conception of the public space. Existing laws stipulate that any outdoor area located under a built structure is considered an interior space. It is therefore deducted from the total allowable built-up area. Given that it is not an enclosed space it has no monetary value. The development of civic and community space has thus been heavily discouraged by law.

LSB Regional Headquarters by Domaine Public Architects

To remedy the value loss, the architects implemented a series of spatial manoeuvres. First, they omitted the roof over the third-floor terrace, excluding the space from the total floor-area ratio (FAR). They then replaced the balcony space on the ground floor with an open courtyard, gaining additional area. The interior glass enclosures were included in the blueprints but not executed on site. This allowed interior space to be counted as a balcony allowance.