Khan Antoun Bey Square and Beirut North Souks

Cities are more fragile than the collection of layered memories that inhabit them. Destruction also feeds resilience, both recurring in the urban life cycles.

From the symbolic presence of Beirut’s ancient harbor arises an interactive water element: a livable cloud. Water is history and is time. Its resilience shapes the city as its ephemerality reinvents it.

The present work for the Kahn Antoun Bey Square was based on a research on the effectiveness of temperature control systems in external space by promoting evaporation of water vaporization mechanisms. This process represents a research effort promoted from design-oriented reasoning that took place during an international competition. The method used herein corresponds to a highly significant approach as, on the one hand, it consolidates the idea that such competitions can activate several fields of research and, on the other hand, the investigation process induces more depth, seriousness and effectiveness on the competition itself.

Some of the most significant questions raised throughout the competition process – would fogging systems be effective in climates with high humidity during hot summer periods? How could we optimize its effectiveness? How to evaluate the qualitative relationship between the effectiveness of such systems and real bioclimatic comfort in the public square? – had no answer in the scientific universe. This conscience was enough to feel the absolute need to promote serious investigation and, with it, to constitute a validation of the all reasoning process.

The research, which satisfies or contributes to fill such an unexplainable hole in knowledge finds, as output of its development, a result of high reliability, easy to use in practical purposes, easily understood by customers and final users. Furthermore, it allows us to reject from this design analysis – the manipulation of microclimate through evaporative cooling systems –processes of mere intuition or simple successive approximations.

Creating waterscapes above the ground was a worthy research challenge to undertake in Beirut. Our proposal was awarded first prize in the competition, and led to this investigation, which explores how water clouds can induce evaporative cooling and achieve sophisticated bioclimatic comfort standards in public space. More than producing fogs of water droplets with an average size of 10 microns created by high pressure pumps and misting nozzles, our intention was to sculpt atmospheric waterscapes.

We took our experience in manipulating softscapes to a higher sensorial level.

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