Karantina Play Garden
Zeina Kronfol & Pamela Haydamous

Location : Karantina - Beirut

PROJECT: KARANTINA PLAY GARDEN: GROUNDS FOR ENCOUNTERS
CATEGORY: PUBLIC SPACES

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: ZEINA KRONFOL & PAMELA HAYDAMOUS |
GREENER_ONTHEOTHERSIDE*
APPROACH OPEN, COLLABORATIVE AND COMMUNITY ENGAGING

LOCATION: KARANTINA, AL-MUDAWWAR DISTRICT, NORTH-EAST OF BEIRUT.
OFFICIAL GARDEN NAME: PATRIARCHE BOULOS EL-MEOUCHY GARDEN
CLIENT AND FUNDER: UNIVERSITE SAINT JOSEPH
LAND OWNER: BEIRUT MUNICIPALITY
COMPLETED 12 DECEMBER, 2016.
PHOTOGRAPHER: SALIM BATLOUNI

CONTEXT
Karantina is a complex neighborhood, tainted with an unfortunate historical past.
Located at the outskirts of Beirut, Karantina—originally the place of enforced isolation right at the entry from the Beirut port— became a refuge for the minorities and the displaced, and until today is rich with communities from diverse ethnic backgrounds (Muslims, Christians, Armenians, Arab al Maslakh). Mainly an industrial district, Karantina houses a dense and crowded residential fabric alongside a slaughterhouse and Sukomi, the recycling treatment plant of Sukleen.

The recent closure of the slaughterhouse, as well as the wide and affordable spaces on offer are attracting emerging artists, developers and creative people, slowly starting a gentrification process. The neighborhood has been witnessing a rise in art galleries, major developments, as well as a nightlife scene all of which are subsequently impacting its socio-economic status. The site itself was an abandoned public garden at the heart of Karantina with lush clumps of tall trees forming a charming oasis.
Despite our first instinct to respect the memory of the garden with its original architectural elements, we decided to go beyond the nostalgia, and instead, transform the space to become a platform for reconciliation between past and present, enabling grounds of encounter between different communities and cultures, and generations.

APPROACH
COMMUNITY ENGAGING
Our role as landscape architects was to create a garden that’s not only aesthetical but impactful with a strong sense of community engagement and integration of the residents in the process of the design. The aim was to build within the users a sense of ownership in order to ensure a successful continuity of the project beyond its implementation.
Our dialogue with the community made it clear that children were to be at the forefront of this project: their play rituals and dynamics became our drive and it became clear to us that in order to achieve this harmonious reconciliation, this space had to concretize as a play type of garden.

OPEN, COLLABORATIVE
While designing the site, we wanted to allocate an area for a collaboration with other designers to organize workshops with the kids and engage them in the design of their new neighborhood garden. We collaborated with Tandem works* and launched an open call inviting artists, designers, architects, sociologists and urban planners to develop proposals for a playful and interactive installation. For this purpose, a carefully selected jury with different backgrounds was formed by:
Rachid Achkar, Architect and former member of Beirut Municipality.
Adib Dada, Founder and Lead Architect, theOtherDada
Rula Hajj-Ismail, Educator, International College
Mona El Hallak, Architect and heritage preservation activist
Rana Samara Joubeily, Architect and founding partner at Polypod
Ayssar Arida, Founder of Urbacraft
Alia Fattouh, Co-Founder and Director, TandemWorks
Zeina Kronfol and Pamela Haydamous, Co-founders of Greener-ontheotherside.
DESIGN: INTERACTIVE, FLEXIBLE AND FUN.
The proposed design introduced a new type of public gardens in Beirut: a Play Garden. It aims at combining art, play, and education; while integrating design functions with its existing mature trees. This resulted in a garden that is rich in activities yet volatile in space.

الطاقة جسر | Power Bridge

The power bridge is an important element of the garden. Just as the tall red and blue ‘giraffe cranes’ gave Karantina a signature look; the columns holding the bridge mimic the element of elevation and are meant to give the garden a distinguished identity: the Karantina signature totems.

Following the Jury’s review, the open call inviting applicants to develop the design of the play items around the bridge, was awarded to CatalyticAction*. Their participatory approach and previous experience in designing playgrounds in unprivileged areas and refugee camps was a key decisive factor for their selection.

الجسر تحت والعب إكتشف | Discover and Play under the Bridge

Catalytic Action’s installation attempts to target all generations through community projects, arranging weekly workshops with the children from the neighborhood and collaborating with three local groups: The Chain Effect, Recycle Lebanon and Urban pins.
The research led to divide the area around the bridge into four stations implied by the location of the four totems. Each area hosts an interactive and different activity informed by the workshops that took place throughout the design process.
The play items include: active spaces such as the zip wire, climbing wall and swings; Music interactive games such as the xylophone and bells station; Relaxing space such as the multilevel bench; Exploratory play items such as the periscope and mirrors.

الراقصة النافورة | Joke Fountain
When activated in the summer, the central joke fountain becomes a fun, dynamic and refreshing element in the garden, and doubles up as an open flexible piazza in the winter.
المطلة البلكونة | Overlooking platform

An elevated platform (bridge) was created to enhance the promenade in the garden. Acting as an open flexible elevated deck, it also serves as a viewpoint for the parents to watch their children play from a distance.

التعبير زاوية | Expression wall
Embracing the workshop area from the two ends are an expression wall serving as a scoreboard for the mini court area, and a play wall with embedded play items.

عمل ورشة و متواصل لقاء مساحة | Workshop area
An oval shaped table and benches are built around the specimen tree that stands alone on the right side of the garden and serves as a picnic or workshop area.
التسلق حائط | climbing wall

العامة المكتبة | community Library
حائط اللعب| Play Wall

REFERENCES AND ACKNOWLEDGMNETS

Greener_ontheotherside* is a creative collective of landscape architects who are design, nature and people conscious. Our approach to projects is site-specific and research based. We aim to elevate nature in any given space by proposing new ideas and approaches to bring people together and discover a greener side of things.
Greener-ontheotherside is passionately formed by Zeina Kronfol and Pamela Haydamous and has successfully completed projects in Beirut and Dubai ranging from private residential gardens to public spaces and landscape installations.

TandemWorks (TW) is a non-profit initiative that encourages change in social, cultural and environmental issues with arts interventions in the public realm. Based in Beirut, TW combines cross-disciplinary practices and collaborates with local and international institutions, civic societies and the private and public sector in unconventional and imaginative ways. Our interventions are artist-led and community driven; they are built on civic engagement as well as interdisciplinary collaborations in the public realm. TW is founded by Alia and Mayssa Fattouh and is independent of political affiliation.

Catalytic Action* is a not-for-profit, design studio that works internationally; intervening with projects that catalyze change in society. Their team members work closely with communities to deliver projects that they can go on to sustain themselves; integrating design and architectural skills with our experience in participatory engagement to bring about positive transformations.

SUB-CONSULTANTS: RODOLPHE MATAR FOR STRUCTURAL, RABIH NAHAS FOR MEP, WATERMASTER FOR THE WATER FEATURE, DIB FOR LIGHTING, AL SABIL FOR THE LIBRARY
PRODUCTION OF DRAWINGS: GREEN STUDIOS
CONTRACTOR: BET A BAT

COLLABORATORS:
ORGANISERS OF THE OPEN CALL FOR ARTISTS: TANDEMWORKS
WINNERS OF THE DESIGN DEVELOPMENT AND EXECUTION OF THE PLAY ITEMS UNDER THE BRIDGE: CATALYTICACTION
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WORKSHOPS: CATALYTICACTION IN COLLABORATION WITH THE CHAIN EFFECT, RECYCLE LEBANON AND URBAN PINS.

THANK YOU TO THE FRIENDS OF KARANTINA PARK
THE JURY COMPETITION MEMBERS: RACHID ACHKAR, ADIB DADA, MONA HALLAK, AYSSAR ARIDA, RULA HAJJ-ISMAIL AND RANA SAMARA JUBEILY
ILLUSTRATOR: REEM SAWMA
PHOTOGRAPHER: SELIM BATLOUNI
OUR PASSIONATE SUPPORTER: ASSADOUR ATTAR & THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS OF KARANTINA.


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