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Wednesday23 July 2014

Gillespies wins major Beirut public realm project

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Landscape and urban design firm Gillespies has won an international design competition to rejuvenate Beirut’s Roman Baths.

The Baths, located close to the city centre, are one of Lebanon’s most valuable archaeological sites. They are being developed by Lebanese company Solidere, which wants the site to become an important visitor centre and large-scale concert venue surrounded by terraced gardens.

Gillespies beat competition from two French practices and an American firm to land the job, which also includes revamping the nearby Omar Daouk space.

The jury that selected the winning designs, which included experts in town planning, landscape design, and archaeology, said Gillespies’ scheme was “very respectful” to the character of the Roman Baths site.

Gillespies associate Armel Mourgue said that the practice’s key objectives were to improve accessibility and preserve the historic remains.

“The archaeology itself is recessed from the public realm,” he said. “It is almost like a well in that the public can view the archaeology from above on a series of platforms which take you round in a loop.”

The Baths are one of the four main historic sites set to be connected via a 5,000m-long pedestrian heritage trail.

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